Principle #5: Avoid restating the opposing viewpoint.
Teachers tell students to address the opposing viewpoints in essays and debates. On TV, however, a restatement of the other side's position can be taken out of context or used to make you sound defensive. We won't hear the charter school principal preface his response by saying, "It's true that we don't accept the lowest ten percent of students, but..." although he would gain more of our respect if he did. Teachers, on the other hand, are more likely to acknowledge the complexity of the issue by leading with, "It's not that we're against accountability, but... (the proposed measures discourage teachers from taking on the neediest students)." Maybe we're trying to lead by example--after all, good teachers know we have to model the behavior we'd like to see in class--but when the sequel to Waiting for Superman comes out, guess what part of our nuanced response they're most likely to use.
If you ever find yourself debating the merits of some education "reform" proposal and there is any kind of recording going on, just be careful. Unfortunately, well reasoned, nuanced arguments are often lost on the media and many Americans. Stick to your message.
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