Reporters: Don’t ask! Teachers: Don’t tell!


One of the allegations in the ACLU complaint against the TIZA school is that TIZA restricts staff members’ communication to the public. St. Paul Public Schools seem to have a strikingly similar policy. Journalists trying to interview SPPS teachers and principals have repeatedly run into a stone wall, with interviews refused or canceled on the grounds that staff are not allowed to talk to the media unless the request is cleared with the district office. That means setting up interviews only through SPPS district PR staff, who sometimes sit in on the interviews.

The ACLU has produced a written policy from TIZA’s handbook, and I don’t have a written policy from SPPS, but the effect is certainly the same. Any information about SPPS is filtered through their public relations staff, which means limited access, time-consuming delays, and the knowledge that any unfavorable information could bring consequences for staff members providing it. At the very least, that makes for a chilling effect on the free flow of information about public education.