Let’s Sharpen Up The Questions & Corrections, Interviewers

 

The Dyett hunger strike in Chicago is long over. The strikers succeeded in pressuring the district to agree to creating a new school on the site (if not to creating a local school council in the first year). But it’s worth pointing out that this early September Melissa Harris-Perry MSNBC interview with two of the hunger strikers let at least one central claims go unchallenged/uncorrected: there aren’t alternative schools and options available nearby (as opposed to traveling for miles).

It’s not easy for hosts and moderators to catch and correct all of the claims and statistics that advocates throw out at them during an interview — especially a live segment like I’m assuming this was.  But the availability of nearby alternatives for students who would previously have gone to Dyett was a central issue, and in an ideal world MHP would have known this and caught and questioned the assertion.

This kind of situation has happened several times in the past, including during a May 2015 interview by Amanda Ripley with charter schools advocate Eva Moscowitz that left out a key question about Success Academy’s backfill and exclusionary policies. Too often, in my view, interviewers seem overly grateful to have gotten their guest/sources to show up or seem like they might be sympathetic to the people they’re interviewing rather than friendly but skeptical like I’d like them to be. (For a glimpse at what I’m talking about, listen to any BBC interview.)

Related posts: A Missed Chance To Press Charter School Leader About Exclusionary Policy

Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.