I am considering starting a blog with a focus on critiquing media reports on schools, school reform, and school policy.
I regularly read distorted and PR produced claims about education policy and reforms in my local paper, as I am certain you do. Many of the writers and pundits do not spend time in schools.
This morning, March 14, 2005, once again, my local paper has a major editorial on NCLB schools and the need to convert them to charters- without a single shred of evidence to support their position. Now, of course I can write letters to the editor and l have.
I hope to develop a community of writers to respond to the nonsense often passed off as insight. We could develop some well informed commentary to counter the poorly informed commentary.
Estimates are that as much as 50 % of "news" is now PR releases from advocacy groups and that 15 of the major 17 "think tanks" are funded by right wing groups, Olin, Bradley, Scaif-Mellon.
Politicians, who do not work in schools, regularly invent some instant solutions to school problems. These grab headlines, but do not help educate children. In reality much of their "dialogue" is only a Right wing ideology promoted by a few and funded by Olin, Bradley, etc. (See posting on No Child Left Behind)
I see setting up a blog as a way to get out more progressive views and to foster a more progressive dialogue focusing on education. This would contend against the poorly informed reportage and editorials on school reform by persons who do not work in schools.
I live and work in Sacramento. Our major paper is read at the Capitol. It has a major impact on policy for the second largest government in the U.S.
We need a discussion that goes beyond what most journalists know, and report, and the press releases from politicians more interested in saving money than in educating children.
For example, recently there was a report on language scores for English learners in California. The data was badly reported in the press. The test was changed, The test was shorter. Items were eliminated and changed, and the administration was changed. And, the students taking the test changed. (the number of 1st. graders taking the test declined (who score lower) and the number of 12th graders (who score higher) increased by 21 %.
But, within days an invalid conclusion was repeated and repeated on news outlets and became "accepted" news. This is the kind of event that a blog could contend against.
In a case like the test scores, I could collect pieces of good information from many people-who would either post it on the blog or post a link to the data.
In preparation for launching this blog, I have monitored some of the major blogs. At times their success is not from getting the best story out. It is often from asking the question, then many on-line supporters provide the needed data and insights. This is the power of an on-line community. This is the power I hope to explore.
Author. Choosing Democracy: a practical guide to multicultural education.
2004. Merrill/Prentice Hall.