Home > Uncategorized > Ten Observations on Three Years Blogging

Ten Observations on Three Years Blogging

April 25, 2015

This blog turns three today, which is 21 in dog years. How do we celebrate 21st birthdays? I forget. Besides, I don’t own a dog.

nelson-birthday

I don’t know that there’s much significance to the blog turning three. A lot has changed during the last 36 months, and no, I’m not particularly taking credit for any of it. Here are 10 observations from my first 535 posts.

  1. Three years ago, Oklahoma educators were fed up with policy makers who were ripping apart our education system. They’ve had to slow the pace of implementing corporate reform, but they’re still on the move. We’re still fed up. The agenda is still moving forward.
  2. Parents are the best voice for public education. As many educators as there are blogging and contacting legislators, we only impact policy to a point. Parents move the needle. Even better is when parents and educators band together to advocate for children.
  3. Electing a state superintendent who respects teachers is a game-changer. There’s been a change in the mood among educators since January, but there is only one meaningful difference in terms of the elected leaders of this state. We still have the same governor. We still have the same senators and representatives dredging up the same bills. We still have RSA and ACE; A-F Report Cards; TLE and VAM (though maybe with a delay); and funding for public education is still critically low. The difference is that we have replaced the state superintendent who blames teachers for everything with one who goes to bat for them. Joy Hofmeister understands that teachers aren’t bad people. Rather they’re the people who spend all day with our children. They deserve respect.
  4. High-stakes testing is unpopular with most students, parents, and educators. It’s only certain politicians and “philanthropists” who love it. This seems obvious now, but remember that my first post was filled with frustration that we were sorting and ranking schools by test scores, without regard to poverty. Over time, okeducationtruths has become one voice among many expressing anger over this. Those of us calling for testing reform don’t always agree on solutions, but when it comes to the harmful effects of using tests to label people and schools, we’re together.
  5. I enjoy reading blogs probably more than I enjoy writing them. This isn’t a humble-brag statement. If I didn’t think I could write, I wouldn’t. I just know that I’m not the only game in town. At various times, I’ve tried to capture a list of Oklahoma education blogs and national blogs I read regularly. That list is sadly out-of-date. I’ll probably work on it again when the school year ends. Among my fellow Oklahoma educators are writers who say it better, and bloggers who are more popular. There are also some who are just getting started. I try to read them all.
  6. I treasure the friends I’ve made from blogging. These aren’t just shallow acquaintances who happen to share a common interest in saving public education. These are real people with students and families and stories and histories that make them who they really are.
  7. Sometimes I just can’t tell what’s going to be a hit. For example, last week I wrote two posts. In the first, I described how I would introduce poetry to my students 15 years ago. I spent hours on it. In the second, I heaped praise on Hofmeister for acting quickly to find a solution to a tough problem. I wrote that in 15 minutes while waiting to pick up my daughter from play rehearsal. The second post has been viewed five times as many as the first one. I’ve received several comments – both privately and publicly –stating that the first was one of my best, which is how I feel as well. That isn’t to say that people are wrong. I am probably just a poor judge of what will stick.
  8. Teachers will band together to protect their content areas. There’s a reason the APUSH legislation in both houses of the Legislature fizzled into a joint resolution with all the impact of a greeting card. My Save AP post from February is sixth for page views all time on this blog. It’s the most-viewed post that doesn’t talk about the third-place finisher in last summer’s Republican primary. Well except for one…
  9. Teacher pay in Oklahoma still hovers around the bottom of the country. My January post discussing teacher pay jumped to number three when it made another viral run around social media in March. In 1970, Oklahoma teachers made 80% of the national average. In 2013, Oklahoma teachers made 80% of the national average. In between, there’s been little fluctuation. At the rally in March, we heard every excuse imaginable from our elected leaders about why teachers can’t have raises right now. This from the same crowd who don’t want to hear excuses from legislators. What they’re really lacking is resolve, and it’s apparently a generational problem that spans decades and knows no partisan preference.
  10. Blogging anonymously was fun, but getting to know my readers has been better. At edcamp in February, I was able to participate in a roundtable discussion about advocacy and blogging with the likes of Joy Hofmeister, Jason James, Rob Miller, Kevin Hime, and Claudia Swisher. At this year’s education rally, I had many candid conversations with people about what they’re dealing with at their own schools. I wondered how taking off the mask would impact the blog. It’s more popular than ever. Page views, Twitter followers, and Facebook likes affirm that. I just wish I had more time to write.

As Rob explained this morning, we still have much to keep us angered. We don’t fight for self-interest. If that were our motivation, many of us would have changed careers years ago. We fight because we want our schools to be places that help children thrive rather than places that demoralize them. We want teachers to be taken more seriously than tests. Thanks for reading; here’s to another year!

birthday paddlin

 

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  1. Shannon Brackeen
    April 25, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    Thanks for all you do, Rick! You are the voice of reason for many in our state. I’m proud to call you a coworker and friend. Keep up the excellent work!

    Like

    • April 26, 2015 at 7:58 pm

      I never thought I’d be described as a voice of reason, Shannon. That’ll have to sink in 🙂

      Like

  2. April 26, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Congratulations, Dr. Cobb (Rick!). I hope it’s been as rewarding to write as it has been for me to read. I aspire to your wit and candor, sir!
    Now, when does the greatest hits album drop? (Or a book…?!?)

    Like

  3. April 28, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Now that your blog is 21 in dog and probably in ‘blog years’, I’d like to buy it a drink. I love your list, but #7 especially resonates with me. It’s taken me a while to become comfortable with the idea that some of the stuff of which I’m most proud is read and really appreciated by eight people, while some of my rants which might have gone… just a TAD overboard, are wildly popular. That’s OK. You make the Avengers so you can make Much Ado About Nothing – and you can love them all the same.

    You were one of the first online presences (is that a real plural?) to be nice to me and treat me as legit long before I had any pretense of such. Others did too – I’m not suggesting otherwise – but you were ‘the big dog’ in my perception, and the kindness was thus a very big deal.

    My first day at the school in which I’m now teaching for my 15th year, the teacher next door – a veteran APUSH guy – offered me staplers and chalk and asked what I was doing for lunch. He has no idea what such gestures did for me as a quaking newbie totally faking it with a smile. If I accomplish nothing else in the #oklaed blogosphere, I want to do my best to keep that going online – like you did for me and so many others.

    *sniff*

    OK. Beer?

    Like

    • April 29, 2015 at 7:44 am

      If you’re buying okeducationtruths a drink in dog years, it had better be a bowl of water set next to the back door. Me on the other hand…

      I’m glad I paid attention to BCE when you started writing. There are so many different perspectives, and Oklahoma doesn’t lack for good writing. Yours is one of the most interesting blogs out there. I love that your blog is taking a turn towards content and pedagogy. It’s something I’d like more time for myself – maybe when the legislature’s not in session.

      Like

    • April 29, 2015 at 3:27 pm

      And you are accomplishing that, Dallas. At least, for me! Does this mean I owe YOU a beer? 😉

      Like

  1. May 2, 2015 at 2:08 pm
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