How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blog

by Robert Pondiscio
March 11th, 2008

Before I blundered in to education some years ago, I did many years of service in Big Media. I acquired many of the habits of mind, I confess, that are still found in their halls. So for years I ignored blogs. I found myself taking in more and more of my news online, but blogs? A bunch of wannabes copping an attitude. Ho-hum.

Education has taught me what I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, see. If you really care passionately about something, blogs (the best of them, anyway) are now the medium of first and last resort. Case in point, last week’s scathing Reading First report by Sol Stern for the Fordham Foundation. Go over to Google right now and key in “Sol Stern and Reading First” and be sure to choose “News” not “Web” on Google. Go ahead, try it. I’ll wait.

As I write this, there’s one print media result, from Ed Week. There’s also a great piece by Sara Mead if you’re just catching up to this story. Now, look again at Google. See that little link in the lower left that says “Blogs”? Click it.

There’s eduwonk, Joanne Jacobs, Ken DeRosa, Dean Millot, eduflack and a host of others. If you’re not following the blogs, you don’t know about it. This is happening more and more. Remember the last time Sol Stern set a match to powder with his heretical City Journal piece on vouchers? The blogs had picked the bones clean and left them bleaching in the sun when the New York Times finally got around to it a month later.

I suppose it’s the frustration of the major media not picking up on Stern’s Reading First smackdown that prompted the Fordham Foundation today to issue a statement calling for an investigation “into scandalous efforts by the executive and legislative branches to sabotage the Reading First program.” That call got just as much play as the original report, from the dead-tree traffickers.¬† All I can say to Checker & Co. is fear not, gentlemen. The Times and the rest will be by eventually.¬†Keep a light on for them.

American Idle

by Robert Pondiscio
March 11th, 2008

Every time a local chamber of commerce or radio station wants to push the easy publicity, feel-good button, they mount an essay contest for local kids to describe, “Why I Love My Teacher.” Then there’s the Center for Union Facts in Washington, DC. They’re asking kids, parents and even other teachers to nominate “the worst unionized teacher in America.” Those teachers will then be offered $10,000 to quit.

If there were a $10,000 prize for understatement, it would be won by Rick Hess, of American Enterprise Institute, who has been critical of the difficulty in identifying ineffective teachers and removing them. He tells USA Today, “that kind of stunt is not what I have in mind when advocating a more informed and honest debate, or seeking to raise the level of debate.”