Like any other field, people and organizations can use public relations for good or bad. Many brands rely on PR to become more visible in the public eye, hoping to become a first choice when customers purchase goods and services. But sometimes, brands also use public relations tactics to deceive a population.
This deception may range from covering up secrets, to changing the public’s correct perception. In this instance, Louisiana’s government hoped to trick citizens by rebranding the despised Common Core standard of education as Louisiana Standards.
The Background Story
Common Core is an education standard from the federal government. Since its inception several years ago, states faced increasing pressure to adopt the standards for their schools, in spite of protests from local school boards, teachers, and parents.
One of the primary criticisms of the standard is that it seems to focus on turning young students into future workers – more so than traditional standards of education. Critics call it a “dumbed down, inappropriate, nationalized and globalized pseudo-education.”
Government officials in Louisiana – including the governor – approved the rewrite and rebranding of Common Core last week, even though local residents simply wanted the standard chucked out of the state. The officials then claimed to have changed 20 percent of the content of the Common Core educational standard, after pouring 9000 hours into rewriting it.
Officials claimed this should help address the concern of teachers, parents, and the local school boards. To reinforce the perception of a new standard, officials also changed the name to “Louisiana Standards.”
Jim Garvey, chief of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) stated, “There was a lot of time and a lot of hard work that was put into adjusting these standards, perfecting these standards and truly making them Louisiana standards.”
The Truth Uncovered
Experts and activists involved in the process, however, spoke out to inform the public and the media that no real change had taken place. In spite of the claims that 20 percent of the original standards had been modified, less than 3 percent was changed. Reports also showed these were minor changes, and did little to affect the overall nature of Common Core.
One particular educator, Ganey Arceneaux spoke to the media regarding the alleged changes. He called the “rewrite” nothing more than a “renaming” of what already existed. He told the The New American, “What really happened was the department of education anticipated that they would be forced to enter a compromise, so they initiated the review in advance and selected the committee which was filled with pro-Common Core supporters. They have asserted that 20 percent of the standards have been revised, but an analysis shows that less than 3 percent were changed.”
The Foreseeable Affect
As distrust of the federal government grows in America, people will now begin to distrust the state officials governing them, as well. For this reason, transparency and honesty in public relations are essential to building trust and developing honest relationships, so they can count on the public they serve for support when necessary.
There is no talk yet of how the state officials intend to spin this new revelation in their favor, but it will take years to undo the damage they have already done.