Skip to content

Doublespeak of the week

February 28, 2010

Want to find a gentle way to call something a failure? 

This may be one of my all-time favorite  examples of “Doublespeak,” and it manages to do just that.  It’s a quote from an article in last week’s New York Times about the  failure of the New York City Education Department’s Teacher Performance Unit to rid the public school system of inadequate teachers:

 Joel I. Klein, the schools chancellor, said that the team, whose annual budget is $1 million, had been “successful at a far too modest level.”

That’s it.  I didn’t flunk high school calculus.  I was just successful at far too modest a level.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Christine Pakkala permalink
    March 1, 2010 12:05 pm


  2. Julie Magrath permalink
    March 1, 2010 12:40 pm


    I love this; thank you for sharing it! I plan to “borrow” this for coaching work with executives in how NOT to discuss performance issues with their people.

    Julie Magrath

    • March 1, 2010 2:50 pm

      I hadn’t thought of it that way, Julie. Good perspective. I usually do like to put things in a positive way – e.g. when people are talking in the movie theater, I usually say, “Please talk about the movie after it’s over” instead of “Please stop talking.” But this one was really over the line.

  3. Risha Shaw permalink
    March 1, 2010 3:41 pm

    I was once at a conference for English teachers. Looking over a group of books, I heard one of the English teachers say, “We done those last year.”
    “Alas, poor English. I knew it well, Horatio.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: