I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to title this blog post. It can probably be re-titled.
This past week, I caught the attention of Ed Week blogger, Anthony Cody. A former educator in Oakland Public Schools, Mr. Cody has a blog on this leading trade publication in the K-12 industry. It is titled Living in Dialogue Mr. Cody essentially plays the role of Clarence Thomas to Antonin Scalia (played by Diane Ravitch). I have been nearly always commented on Anthony’s blog to rebut his NEA-line agenda time and time again. His blog states that it is about the following theme: “With education at a crossroads, he invites you to join him in a dialogue on education reform and teaching for change and deep learning.” However, if one looks beneath the surface, what you will find is that the author is proud of the fact that his blog archive shows no less than 80 (that’s right, 80) posts related to the Common Core. He has taken a cue from Diane Ravitch and talks about the so-called conspiracy around the formation of the standards. In addition, Mr. Cody assassinates ed reformers such as the Gates Foundation at every turn, believing that they have no business meddling in education policy.
Mr. Cody then decided to honor me with writing a blog post that references my previous comments and deducts that I sought to muzzle Cody and the like and that they don’t have voice – that they should simply worry about what they can control which is their classrooms. And this, of course, opened the flood-gates and created a surge of comments on his blog, many of them personally attacking me and calling me a corporate reformer. One even had the audacity to state that our education system is not broken.
Here is where I drew the line. Mr. Cody’s blog has not been living up to its billing. It is more or less taking the NEA -line about the Common Core and the political forces meddling (as he puts it) in education policy. Is 80 blog posts overkill or what? What you find on this blog and many other blogs by educators is that they use blogging to rant and to turn it into an NEA beat down on any reformers who may differ from them in what ails our schools. Many of the educators on the blog are NEA members, are retired teachers who are free to say whatever they wish, or are educators using an alias, for fear they might face reprimands from their administrators if identified. Most of the time, these educators personally attack and character assassinate their targets, without using any factual evidence to support their views. Or alternatively, they will take an outlier situation – and use it to state that the particular practice is killing our schools when it is just one extreme case. This is a typical weapon of choice by Ravitch, Cody, et al.
Mr. Cody’s blog is supposed to be about “teaching for change and deep learning.” I commented that Mr. Cody, as an experienced educator, should use his bully pulpit to try and help teachers improvise and use the limited resources they have – to think differently. Instead, they talk about compartmentalizing subjects and worried about insufficient time during the school day to add new things. Mr. Cody should look at the amazing teaching practices happening across the nation and the fact that there are some innovative programs where they are able to integrate music and arts in their curriculum, as well as crate intrinsically motivating learning environments through digital technology, video games and the like. In the new year, I hope that educators will spend more time looking at the opportunities afforded by changing their teaching habits, and to be more positive versus the constant rants and complaints seen across the educator blogasphere, which includes Mr. Cody’s blog. If you read this blog and others on Ed Week, you’ll find that more than 90% of the comments are simply agreeing with the author’s premise, rather than engaging in true civil discourse, or even creating an environment of collaboration. That’s my wish for educators and other key stakeholders in 2014 – a new spirit of respectful discussion and collaboration. I hope we can see this happen.