Friday, June 10, 2011

On Coach, Trent, Eric, Pete and Rupert

It's a wrap-up at the end of a crazy week. Just think -- at noon Wednesday, it looked like the announcement that Trent Merchant wouldn't seek re-election was going to be the week's big talker.

Politics and personalities aside, the departure of Merchant and Coach Joe White from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board will be a tragedy of epic proportions for local reporters. Let's face it, the former actor and the retired coach are quote factories. Both have strong views and delight in using plain, vigorous language. Sometimes they come up with the perfect metaphor to capture the essence of complex issues (if it's from Coach, you know that metaphor will involve sports). Sometimes they leave listeners with jaws dropped and heads shaking. Either way, they make covering education more fun.

Board Chair Eric Davis is a good bit more buttoned down. So I was delighted to hear him pull off a good one-liner when several of us talked about Superintendent Peter Gorman's departure on Charlotte Talks on Thursday:  "We burn out good superintendents faster than we can burn a song on a CD."

And speaking of burnout, the superintendent who launched weekly media briefings and was widely lauded for his skill with the media left a lot of questions hanging with his abrupt resignation Wednesday, followed by departure for a pre-scheduled vacation. But spokeswoman LaTarzja Henry said today he left one very clear instruction: He will do no more interviews before his mid-August departure.

Finally, when it comes to lively speech, it's hard to beat Gorman's new boss, Rupert Murdoch. If you've got a little weekend time to kill, it's worth reading Murdoch's recent speech to G-8 leaders explaining his vision for the new education division that Gorman will help him launch. It's long but fascinating, and gives the clearest idea I've gotten yet of what enticed Gorman to make the leap (besides money, which I assume is pretty darn good).

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