When's the last time you had one of those moments when popular culture or non-educator friends or even a board member said something about education so nonsensical that it made you crazy, but also scared you into thinking that maybe a lot of people felt this way?
If you're like me, it happens every few days. This week, I was at a board meeting to hire a new high school principal when the board got sidetracked into a discussion of the high school's summer reading list. While some valid complaints were mentioned, one member repudiated the entire list of books by saying his high school age son wasn't interested in reading any of them.
While I value student input as much, and probably more than, most people, my reaction was immediate, if kept internal. So now we're going to remove any book suggested, no matter its value, if students don't agree? We're going to immediately question the judgment of our senior administrators over an offhand complaint? And we're going to pick our new high school principal, in part, based on how he plans to manage the summer reading list?
Like most of you in the same situation, I kept these thoughts inside until I discussed the matter with my wife at home and my co-workers at the office.
But starting this month, I have an immediate alternative. District Administration is rolling out its own blog, The Pulse, this month. (To see the new site, and the magazine's redesigned Web site, visit www.districtadministration.com.) Our tagline, Education's Place for Debate, says it all. Here's a place where education experts, board members, frustrated teachers, and anyone else can post a rant, a theory, or a thoughtful question, and be able to get feedback from his or her peers.
And that's not all. The redesigned Web site will also allow readers to post comments on both news stories of the day, and articles from the magazine. Just peruse some of the headlines that ran in our Aug. 10 newsletter: Auditors reproach California charter schools; Denver district sets English policy; New Jersey moves toward revamping disputed school funding plan; Louisiana parents upset by students not being promoted.
Even without reading the stories, you're probably already forming some ideas about what you think on these topics. And that's not even half of the stories that we run in our newsletter, DA Daily, everyday. Now on our Web site, you can read these stories and post your reaction to them. And while it's always a relief to get burning thoughts off your chest-especially when you know you're right-it may be even more valuable to see what other people think and if they agree with you.
Longtime Editor-at-Large Gary Stager will be our new Blog Editor and he is busy at this moment adding to the list of experts who will be posting regular blogs on the site. Already notables such as Roger Schank, David Thornburg and Pedro Noguera will post regularly.
So the next time you're watching television, at a neighbor's house, or even in a staff meeting, and someone says something about education that you can't react to at the time, but have to get off your chest-you know where to turn, The Pulse.