Survivor and The Real World attract millions of viewers, but the reality TV cognoscenti know where to find the most delicious fare: the televised actions of elected political bodies (see here and here). In Miami-Dade County, for instance, the school board's proceedings have, since February, garnered up to 28,500 viewers at any given hour. Angry teachers, arguments over the ever-slimming budget, and political rivalries among the nine board members have produced a level of drama that few scripted shows can rival. In one recent episode, an attempt to oust Superintendent Rudy Crew intensified the action. (Crew held onto his job, but just barely--the board voted on Monday 5-4 against terminating him.) Mario Artecona, executive director of the Miami Business Forum said, "The meetings are like a train wreck. You know it's going to be a mess, but you can't look away." Justin Koren, a teacher, compared the proceedings to "a soap opera on steroids." Too bad this isn't a soap opera, though. It's the unfortunate reality of how one big, urban district enrolling some 400,000 children is presently governed.
"School drama: Board meeting spats lure viewers," by Kathleen McGrory, Miami Herald, August 3, 2008
"Legal grounds for firing Crew weak, Dade School Board told," by Kathleen McGrory and Laura Isensee, Miami Herald, August 4, 2008
"Dade schools superintendent hangs on by one vote," by Kathleen McGrory, Laura Isensee, and Jennifer Lebovich, Miami Herald, August 5, 2008