On April 26, The Observer received a comment criticizing us for running a series of negative rants about the school system. It’s the third one down in today's Rant and Rave column if you haven’t seen it yet.
The comment — which was anonymous, just like the ones it criticized — says we have the power to choose which rants we print and which ones we don’t. And it is correct.
It is The Observer’s goal on this opinion page — through the Rant and Rave, through syndicated columnists, through local and guest editorials, and through signed letters to the editor — to provide our readers with an assortment of opinions. Some we as individuals agree with, others we don’t. We work to emphasize local contributions, which typically includes the Rant and Rave.
The school system is important to local people. We know this in a variety of ways — from turnout at Packer football games, to the margin of success of the latest Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, to the number of school-related comments we receive on the Rant and Rave.
Rant and Rave tends to go in spurts. People will comment on one subject, someone will respond and it will go on for a while, then it will die off as commenters move to another topic. This “spurt” about the schools seems to have started with a comment on the prom that we received April 10 and published April 12. It continued with remarks about whether race should be an issue in deciding the next principal of a majority black school, whether the school system should fund large field trips instead of asking parents to contribute and whether schools are appropriately secure.
All of those are legitimate topics for public discussion, which is to say that people of good conscience could have opinions on either side of the issue based on their values and priorities. School system leadership could do what they legitimately believed was right for the students, and others could just as legitimately believe their action was wrong. And that makes for a vibrant debate on important public issues.
But that is not what we got.
Between April 10, when we received the prom comment, and April 26, when we received the comment critical of us, The Observer received 187 Rants and Raves. Fifty-nine of them were related to the schools, about a third.
All were negative. Forty-five were critical of a school, system administration or a policy. Fourteen were responses to one or more of those original rants and were critical or caustic toward the original ranter.
Between April 10 and 26, we actually ran only 24 school-related comments, compared to 71 that had nothing to do with the schools. Again, about a third.
But those 24 were all negative, because that’s all we’ve received.
So, if you want to see more positive comments about the schools — or any other topic that’s close to your heart — please send them. Visit www.moultrieobserver.com and scroll down to “Send a Comment” on the right-hand side. You can send a short comment to Rant and Rave from there.
Or better yet, click the link right above that and send us a letter to the editor. Unlike the Rant and Rave, it’s not anonymous. Knowing that you’re willing to put your name on your opinion gives it more weight, and a letter to the editor allows more room for you to explain your position.
While we absolutely can choose which comments are published in our paper, we will choose to be fair. But we can never publish the comment you don’t send.