Craig Witherspoon is becoming more popular by the hour in Birmingham. The Birmingham Board of Education was expected to discuss yesterday whether or not the Superintendent should be fired. The Birmingham News editorial board wrote an article with their opinion on the situation. The editorial board believes Witherspoon should not be fired and should in fact be given an extension on his contract.
In the article, the editorial board lists many things that Witherspoon has done well. He reorganized the school system’s boated front office, lowered the school system’s legal fees, and brought in a team of Teach for America teachers. In addition, he initiated career academies, started a dropout recovery program, and started Parent University, an “idea he brought from the Charlotte, N.C., school system, where parents are taught how better to interact with their children’s schools and teachers.”
Obviously, the editorial board raved about Witherspoon and all the great things he has done in just two years. “In the two years Witherspoon has been on the job, he has shown himself a capable leader. He is not perfect. But he is easily the most capable.” However, they did mention two issues that help the other side of the argument. Witherspoon hired a director who then resigned before starting the job – all because of a past scandal. Also, Witherspoon dismissed the popular Principal Spurgeon Banyard. These two mistakes certainly didn’t gain him any friends in Birmingham.
But after all the good he has done, are those two mistakes important enough that he should be fired? The editorial board, assuming that the reader would ask that question, says, “…the reasons listed by board members to oppose him are petty: The city’s athletics program is lousy. Witherspoon is talking to the “wrong” people. A school had a textbook problem. He doesn’t communicate well.” What a horrible view of the board members! It appears that they want Witherspoon fired for their own purposes, because the reasons are definitely petty and could easily be resolved. If the board members decided to help Witherspoon with the little things, like a textbook problem, then perhaps bigger things like hiring mistakes would never occur. The editorial board obviously wants the reader to be for Witherspoon and against the board members, and listing these petty reasons drives their opinion home.
As an article, the story is very biased. Obviously, when critiquing an opinion piece the article will be slanted heavily in one direction. The editorial board did attempt to show a little bit of the other side of the story by listing a few missteps, but it’s clear from the beginning how they feel about Witherspoon. It’s also important to note that this piece is written as if The Birmingham News is stating their opinion on the matter. When a big company shares their opinion, many people that are on the fence will probably lean towards the shared opinion. This is great for the cause, but The Birmingham News has to be very careful when writing pieces that speak for the entire company, because they’re likely to face more backlash this way.
If I could change anything about this article, I would definitely include a few quotes! There wasn’t a single quote given throughout the entire article. This does make sense, though, since it’s an opinion piece. The closing sentence of the article was strong, though. Once again, the editorial board bluntly stated their opinion by saying, “For the schoolchildren of Birmingham and for the school system’s future, the Board of Education must not make this grave mistake.” Overall, I was disappointed, especially by the lack of quotes, but for an opinion piece The Birmingham News did a good job.
The news story can be found here.