A work strike is at its heart a public relations battle. Economic leverage and political influence are only as strong as the strikers’ ability to win the hearts and minds of the public.
That is why Denver Public Schools’ misstep last night – a letter sent to teachers threatening to report visa-holding teachers to immigration authorities – hurts so much. They lost a bit of their moral high ground at a pivotal negotiating moment, and no doubt increased solidarity among teachers. DPS spokeswoman Anna Alejo quickly apologized for the letter, calling it an “incorrect communication” and an “error.”
Denver Public Schools wasn’t alone this week with its misstep. Douglas County Schools is continuing to address the fallout from one of its middle school teachers who incorrectly identified the Covington Catholic student at the center of the Lincoln Memorial viral video and then doubled down by alleging he was a member of “#HitlerYouth.” (Side note: I imagine there is a long line of defamation attorneys lined up at that student’s house.)
DougCo quickly suspended the teacher, but the school board was not in the mood to dwell on the issue. As Erin Powell at 9News reported last night, the board selectively enforced its civility rules and had a sheriff’s deputy remove a speaker from the room for merely citing the teacher’s name. If the goal was to minimize media coverage, that failed spectacularly.