Education Opinion

What Do Public Servants Owe the Public When They Make Mistakes?

By Eduwonkette — June 06, 2008 1 min read

Imagine that you are a public servant. This year, you’ve left families in a lurch by centralizing an enrollment system that you lacked the organizational capacity to run effectively. It is June, and kids and families are still in the dark about their middle and pre-school placements for September. How should you react?

a) You should issue a heartfelt apology, explaining that you’ve make a serious mistake, that you take full responsibility for the mistake, and that you understand how terribly you’ve inconvenienced the families you serve. In addition, you should explain how you will be sure this doesn’t happen again.

b) A press spokesperson for the organization should say, “It’s simply not correct to say that we’re running way behind.”

c) The person running the office that made the mistake should say, “I know that there are parents who are upset that they haven’t gotten a letter yet. Rest assured they will by the end of the week, and we have committed to parents we will work to get this done earlier next year.”

d) Both B and C

If you answered d), you should look into a position in the press office at the New York City Department of Education. It’s a growth industry, and I heard the pay’s alright.

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