Letter: Selling regionalization
The process of presenting concrete facts and figures to the voters of Amherst, Pelham, Leverett, and Shutesbury and allowing them to decide whether to regionalize elementary education has been abandoned. It is being replaced with a tactic that appeals to our emotional, subjective and “feel good” weaknesses. The Regional School District Planning Board (RSDPB) has hired the public relations and marketing firm of Clarity-First (www.clarity-first.com) to sell regionalization to us.
On June 26, the Clarity-First contractor spent the first of two meetings he will have with the RSDPB listening to what the board wants the rest of us to hear about regionalization. Board member statements included: want a strategy to win over towns; don’t want focus on details-only general concepts; want a speech that highlights all the positive aspects of regionalization; want to ensure all issues have appeared to be thought through and addressed.
Regionalization will have a far-reaching and permanent impact on our elementary education system. The RSDPB’s hiring of a company to create a campaign to sell only the good parts of regionalization while failing to mention any of the downsides is neglectful. Using a company that will produce glossy, one-sided, slick, emotion-driven advertisements (see examples of Clarity-First product on their website), treats voters as tools to be used and manipulated.
Voters only need the pros and cons of regionalization. We are more than capable of analyzing the facts and figures on our own and making an intelligent decision without being bombarded with fluff from an advertising agency. Using an advertising agency to paint a rosy picture of regionalization won’t do us, or our children, any good.