It took several weeks but Jay Matthews, Washington Post columnist, and Walt Gardner, retired teacher and professional letter-to-the-editor guy, finally came up with some opinions regarding education blogs. If you need a refresher regarding this you can read my November post here.
Apparently Matthews and Gardner have been furiously reading many blogs over the last few weeks and they have finally come up with a list. You can read the column titled Innocents in Blogland here.
I was happy to see that all five of the choices I sent to them made it on the list. I’m linking to them here because I want to make sure everyone sees the list. There might someone here you are unaware of. There were two or three I will make sure I check out. I think it’s wonderful that these sites have gotten recognition they deserve.
Education Policy Blog
From the Trenches of Public Education
A Passion for Teaching and Opinions
Susan Ohanian. Org
Teaching in the 408
This Week in Education
TLN Teacher Voices
Overall I was pleased with the list; however, I wish it had more frontline teachers on it. I don’t know the criteria Matthews and Gardner used to come up with their list, but perhaps since Mr. Matthews is planning to make this an annual event it is something that could be adjusted. Education isn’t simply about policy, research, and news. Now don’t get riled up and misunderstand me. These sites are needed. They are needed very much.
However, there are many fantastic frontline teacher sites out there…some are on the list, but so many more never even get a mention hardly anywhere else other than the education carnival and/or mentions and links from other sites. They are addressing problems in education I rarely see mentioned anywhere else. The problems they mention are the ones we aren’t supposed to talk about it. The problems involving hungry, neglected children, children infested with lice, children who have a bad cold and have coughs so bad they bark like dogs for three months straight. Other problems these teachers “whine” about are discipline problems, truency problems, leadership that talks out of both sides of their mouths, and violence in our school communities. Many times when frontline teachers “whine” about these types of problems they are told “It’s your method of doing things. Change it.” We can’t fix everything by changing methods.
Frontline teacher sites…even those that tell us about the “backside” of education are extremely important to our community to get the word out. It’s about the children and what happens on the frontline. In order to make the proper policies and conduct relevant research concerning education we need to pay close attention to those teachers in the classroom even when they vent, rant, and rave. Wade through the emotion and these teachers are identifying real problems in our profession and in the education process. These frontline teachers are just as aware regarding education needs, and they have relevant ideas about improving education.
Gardner said "choosing the 10 best blogs out of the 74 I received was far tougher than I anticipated. I selected those that I thought were successful in achieving their stated mission. Because blogs are still in their infancy, it's impossible to know how they will evolve. If they move in the direction of persuasion, rather than pronouncement, they have the potential to advance taxpayer understanding of issues in public education. My hope is that they take advantage of the opportunity to stimulate rational debate through the use of evidence, and shun ad hominem arguments."
I’m not sure how I feel about the statement I italicized. The classroom teachers who are part of this vast community tend to more or less say the say things about testing, discipline, student apathy, large bureaucracies where the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, and other problems as well. I think our community here on the ‘net has a large body of evidence that indicates we have an education crisis. These teachers write about real problems. They are not ad hominem arguments.
I invite ANY taxpayer, reporter, or legislator to come and spend a week with me and simply observe, but of course, you and I know that will never happen. The invite is still open though….