We pause from our regular missives on education agitation to take a moment to celebrate Eduflack’s anniversary. It is hard for me to believe that we launched this blog three years ago. At the time, I anticipated readership in the zero mark (not even my mother or my wife were regular readers in the early days). I started Eduflack because I found the writing cathartic. As originally envisioned, this blog was going to focus on how well we are communicating on key education issues. As these pages have grown, we’ve also spent a lot of time talking about the policy and the research itself, trying to mix things up, pick fights, and spur some different thinking on the ideas on which we are so focused these days.
In that time, we’ve written close to 1,000 entries. And, unfortunately for Eduflack readers, my posts are far longer than your average bear blog posts. I’ll admit, I can be a little verbose, but I continue to try to provide content that is relevant to readers. I’ve learned over the years that I really do have readers. Sure, the blog statistics show me who is visiting and how that is increasing, but I am particularly surprised when I hear from real people that they read this site. I know how much content is out there on the Web, so I take it very seriously when people say they read this stuff. It puts the pressure on to continue to write, to continue to be relevant, and to continue to be of some sort of value. You’ve definitely raised the stakes for me, and push me to do better.
That’s one of the reasons why we added the @Eduflack Twitter feed. During a good week, I can turn out four or five essays on the education news of the day. But there is much, much more that I wish I could write about. So each day, I offer up 10-15 Tweets relaying those articles and studies that are catching my eye. And the good think about the @Eduflack Twitter feed is it is relatively opinion free. Just lots and lots of links to the issues and topics of importance to me and, hopefully, Eduflack readers.
As I reflect on the last three years, I have to both start and end with huge thanks to those readers and supporters out there. Everyone who reads it. Everyone who cites Eduflack or links back to it. Those who comment on posts. Those who send me story ideas or take issue with the story ideas I select. This blog has value because of the ongoing input I receive. Without such input I really am truly just writing for myself, and that does no one any good at this point.
But there are also a few important notes I would like to point out, based on some recent feedback, items that I believe are worth highlighting:
* Eduflack is not a journalist, and I sure hope I don’t try to portray myself as one. I have a great deal of respect for journalists and for the ethics that govern their profession. Real journalists are out there gathering the full story, interviewing parties on both side, and providing a balanced approach to a topic. That isn’t my job. At best, I am a commentator. If you are looking for the news, there a number of sites I can and have directed people to for the best in education information. I will link to many of those stories in my posts. But Eduflack is not a journalist, despite the number of media releases that end up in my inbox each day. I write opinion. The point of this blog is to provide my critique and my analysis of the education issues of the day.
* That also means that I have a day job. For the past dozen years, ever since I left Capitol Hill, I have spent most of my time as a consultant, working with a great number of organizations and individuals. As a general rule, I have always tried NOT to write about my clients. When I have, I have disclosed those relationships. But obviously, what I write about is what I am focused on during the day. The focus on RF came out of all the years I spent shepherding the National Reading Panel. A recent focus on high school graduation rates and the achievement gap sprung from my work with the National Governors Association and its Honor States initiative. So while I have always tried to disclose when I have a direct business interest in a post, it is safe to say I have an intellectual interest in everything I write.
* I am an amateur when it comes to research. Over the past 10-plus years, I have been fortunate to work with a great number of education researchers, particularly those who fall into the non-squishy variety. I have learned a great deal from them, and, from time to time, feel these wise individuals have provided me an informal graduate education in such research issues. But whether it be my analysis or virtually anyone else’s analysis of the data, it is always best to trust, but verify.
* I don’t shy away from criticism. I’m always surprised when folks want to engage in a lengthy debate on a topic with me, but take such debates and critiques offline and private. I enjoy the public debate. And I am more than willing to open up these pages to others who may want to take issue with a particular post or may have a different perspective. If you want to take dear ole Eduflack on, just drop me a line and we can make it happen.
I look forward to another interesting and thought provoking Eduflack year. We have RttT, common core standards, and i3 coming down the pike. ESEA reauthorization is waiting. And, perhaps more importantly, we are starting to move into a closer look at how these new federal actions are affecting our states and localities (particularly on the implementation side). Lots to write about, lots to commentate on, lots to stir up the pot with.
Thanks, all, for making the past three years so much fun! Here’s to another year (and hopefully more) of offering an intersection for education policy, research, and communications.