Two reasons, I guess. First, though I may not persuade these officials, I might succeed in shedding light on their positions, and possibly in revealing flaws in their reasoning. The questions that don’t get answered can shed as much light as the ones that do. I’d like to know whether Jason Glass is making any effort to measure what is being sacrificed to increase reading and math test scores, and how he weighs the benefits of test score gains against those sacrifices. He either has to give an answer that I can hold up to public scrutiny, or remain silent and allow us to assume the worst.
The second reason is that it’s important for government officials to hear what people are concerned—and angry—about. Thanks to the internet and social media, many government officials can now be publicly confronted about their policies and practices in a way that wasn’t possible before. What Glenn Greenwald says about journalists here is also true of government officials:
One of the good things about the change the media has undergone is that it has amplified voices. So if you criticize a member of the journalist class, 15, 20 years ago they could easily ignore you, and the only way to hear about it was basically a letter to the editor—it was purely a one-way conversation. Now, it’s a two-way conversation, so if you’re a journalist, and you write something deceitful or propagandistic or sloppy or wrong, everywhere you turn, you’re going to hear it: in your email, on Twitter, in the comment section of what you write, you’re going to be besieged with criticism, and blogs have really fueled that. Something like that influences people and affects how they work.Or at least it can. I don’t enjoy these exchanges, but I want to do my small part to make that aspect of the internet a reality.
Credit to Glass and Murley for making themselves available in this way. They could probably still get away with an imperious silence—though not as easily as in the pre-internet age.