Alexander Russo has his "Best of the Blogs." The idea occurred to me a few weeks back to create a "worst of the blogs" list as a counterbalance, but it seemed far too judgmental and condescending for my taste. Given my espoused distaste for some of what passes as dialogue in education policy, however, the idea rattled around in my head for awhile. I've finally reached a compromise.
Today I'm starting a new section titled "Blog Posts In Need of Improvement" -- a title I deem tongue-in-cheek enough for others to know that I'm not taking myself too seriously. I have no desire to put myself on a pedestal or scold others, but I would like to encourage more thoughtful and productive dialogue. Here are the rules and criteria:
1. Blog posts will be classified as "in need of improvement" when they fail to productively advance discussion and, instead, root for one side over another. Posts that are accusatory without evidence, thoughtless, derogatory, or fail to take the good of society into account are all eligible. Selection will not be based on ideology or poor grammar.
2. Blog posts that are selected will be accompanied by the selection of a productive and thoughtful post from the same blog. I'm not out to get anybody, I just feel an odd desire to point out when people aren't helping.
I'm going to lead off my list with a couple of oldies-but-baddies:
BPINI 1: I Pity The Fool!, Jay P. Greene's Blog
Why: Greg Forster chooses to revel in the "smackdown" of teachers who wrote letters to the Wall St. Journal, despite the fact that there's no possible way to tell whether or not the letters are evil given their brevity. He chooses to take sides and root for the downfall of others rather than working for the betterment of schools. In response to my criticism of the post, he defends his right to criticize "the blob" -- a derogatory term used to refer to teachers with whom he disagrees.
Better Post, Same Blog: The Devil's In the Implementation
Why: A thoughtful post analyzing the recent analysis of Reading First and what might have gone wrong.
BPINI 2: P.U. to B.U., Flypaper
Why: Chester Finn decides, without ever having met the man, that the new dean at B.U. will ruin the school -- apparently based on a glance of his resume and the fact that he currently works at Wisconsin. Finn writes that "He is reportedly hostile to charter schools and high-stakes accountability and just about everything else worth being in favor of nowadays." In the future, I hope Finn bases his judgments on facts rather than what somebody is "reportedly" like. I further hope that we can stop viewing education reform as a series of separate ideas, some of which we should root for and some which we shouldn't.
Better Post, Same Blog: Quizzing for Reading Data
Why: In her inaugural Flypaper post, Amber Winkler delves into the numbers in the latest report on reading -- examining why the numbers are they way they are rather than simply reacting to the table.