Scott Stanford: Checking my bias at the door

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I'm a big Kelly Stanford fan -- have been from the moment I met her on Thanksgiving Day in 1990.

She was finishing her degree and preparing to teach. I was taking journalism classes and hoping to land a job with the local newspaper. Eighteen months after we met, we got married. I did not give a thought to how our two careers might mesh.

It wasn't until 2000 that I realized my wife's job might have an impact on my job. Kelly was teaching in the San Angelo Independent School District and finishing her master's degree at Angelo State University. I was the city editor at the San Angelo Standard-Times.

That spring, the superintendent stopped by the newspaper and told me that my wife would be named the district's new social studies coordinator. Great, I thought, but weird that the superintendent told me before anyone informed my wife.

It dawned on me then that there might be a connection between my role at the newspaper and my wife's role in the school district. For much of the past five years, that connection has been heightened.

I became editor of the Steamboat Pilot & Today in May 2001. My wife was hired that fall to be the school district's director of content standard, which later became the director of curriculum and instruction. Last year, Kelly worked as the assistant superintendent of schools in Cuero, Texas. This year, she again will be the Steamboat Springs School District's director of curriculum and instruction. She starts Aug. 1.

Many people don't understand what it is that the director of curriculum and instruction does. They think her salary -- and the salaries of other administrators -- could be put to better use elsewhere within the school district.

Do I disagree? Absolutely. Am I biased? Absolutely. Does my wife's role color my objectivity? No question about it.

So, how do I balance her role with the school district with my role as the newspaper's editor? The best I can do is take myself out of the newspaper's coverage of the Steamboat Springs School District.

Reporter Mike Lawrence (871-4203 or mlawrence@ steamboatpilot.com) writes about the school district. City editor Brent Boyer (871-4233 or bboyer@steamboatpilot.com), a former education reporter, directs our education coverage and edits stories about education.

I will have no role in the newspaper's education coverage. I also will not write editorials regarding the school district.

I believe strongly that school district coverage is one of the most important components of a good community newspaper. The school district is the highest-taxing entity and one of the largest employers in Steamboat Springs. Nearly every family in the community has some significant connection to the schools through an employee, parent, student or graduate.

It only makes sense to dedicate significant space to coverage of all facets of our school district. At the same time, it is only fair that I not be involved in that coverage. As always, I'm available to hear your feedback on this or other newspaper issues.

From the Editor appears Thursdays in the Steamboat Today. Send questions to Scott Stanford at sstanford@steamboatpilot.com or call him at 871-4221.

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