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Rick Hess Straight Up

Education policy maven Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute think tank offers straight talk on matters of policy, politics, research, and reform. Read more from this blog.

Education Opinion


By Rick Hess — December 18, 2012 1 min read
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I haven’t written about Newtown because I haven’t had anything useful to say. I’m not a K-12 educator, a religious or community leader, a public official, or a role model. I’m inclined to defer to those who have something to say or inhabit positions of public trust. That said, over the past few days, it’s again struck me how this kind of abomination can bring out the worst in us, as well as the best. In the aftermath of Newtown, I was touched by the care and goodness of so many.

But I’ve also been disheartened, once again, by the commercialization of tragedy. I’ve been appalled by news coverage that quickly bleeds from respectful to rapacious, as reporters and cable bookers find ever more angles to keep the story alive. I’m horrified by advocates and education pundits who seize upon Newtown as a “hook” to place an op-ed or push their favorite talking points and agenda items. And I’m sickened that, in a few weeks, this industry of callow self-promotion will have casually forgotten its heart-rending sorrow, with everyone racing off to capitalize on the next Twitter meme.

I don’t want to name names or call anyone out. I’d just like all of us, before we write, opine, or declaim, to take care that we accord the lost children of Newtown the dignity they deserve.

The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.