Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Yet Another List....

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.

The Chalkboard
Critical Mass
D-Ed Reckoning
Education Policy Blog
From the Trenches of Public Education
Joanne Jacobs
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….

Any takers?


teachergirl said...

I have to tell you, I nominated several blogs (yours included) which didn't make the cut. Having run through the list, I'm not sure what Jay Matthews was looking for. You, the Reflective Teacher, Teaching in the Twenty First Century, California Teacher Guy are all blogs I turn to when I need ideas and inspiration. I have gotten lesson plans from all of you. It is like being with my team on my laptop. I don't think Jay Matthews covered that at all. But that's just my opinion. BTW, love your Mona Lisa!

Anonymous said...

Well said. I wonder how Gardner and Matthews missed one of the granddaddies of Edublogging, the EdWonk ? He cites "74: submissions; not much of group to pick from....

I agree with you that there is a place for everyone in the edublogosphere.....I personally read mostly teacher blogs....the policy ones tend to raise my bp.

EHT said...

Thanks Teachergirl and Polski. I had this maddening thought this afternoon in the middle of the day....Gee I hope someone doesn't think I'm "lamenting" (Dr. Homeslice's word)about the list because I didn't get on it.

That wasn't it at all......

Both of you for instance have very valid things to say about education as well as many, many other teachers (some I haven't even found yet).

Thanks for responding.

Dave Marain said...

i hope you regard me as a frontline teacher who has something to say that's 'real'! I definitely did not start my blog to be a news source. The fact that I state my true identity puts me at great risk but one I am willing to take to get my message across that the best metaphor for the current state of American education is that the 'emperor has no clothes!' I hope you will visit me as I do you. And yes, math teachers love history and english too! Don't let the problems of the day scare you away. I have more important points to make...
Dave Marain

EHT said...

Thanks for the comment, Dave. I think it is very obvious to anyone that visits the sites listed on the Washington Post list which sites are policy sites and which ones are written by current frontline teachers and I meant no slight to you or anyone else on the list be they frontline teacher, policy maker, or concerned citizen. I simply would have liked to see more frontline teachers on the list......more of here's how NCLB is working in my neck of the woods....

I agree with your opinion that the best metaphor for the current state of education is that the 'emperor has no clothes'. My real name was published in USA Today and I even allowed them in my classroom so I certainly am not afraid to speak my mind and let folks know who I am, however, there is a common practice in our profession to quell any type of opposition if your opinion does not fit current practices. I guess that is why so many teachers are hesitant to join our community and speak their minds.

All of us...frontline teachers and all the others who write about education have 'real' things to say. If my ramblings gave anyone any other opinion I apologize.