Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Little Blog Business

I started this blog a little over five months ago out of frustration with Phase I of the school closure plan, and a desire to keep communicating with others I had met around the district during Town Meetings and public hearings.

Now, the blog has gotten large enough and has enough traffic (150-250 different people with 350-500 hits per day during weekdays of the last few busy weeks) that it is time to take care of a little blog business.

1) I have invited several people to become Contributors to the blog, which gives them the ability to post items directly, without having to send it to me first. The benefit of this was clear on the day Raj resigned when I was in a 3-hour meeting as the news was announced, but Johnny Calcagno was able to post the news and initiate the conversation. I also cannot continue to spend as much time every day on this blog as I have been doing recently, so it will be nice to share the posting load with others.

My goal is to have 8-10 contributors, connected with all stages of public school (elementary, middle, high), from different areas of the city, and with different interest areas (bilingual, special education, alternative education, APP, etc.). Ideally, in addition to having parents as contributors, I would like to have some teachers, district staff or other community members as contributors, but I'm not sure if that is realistic right now.

If you are interested in being a contributor, you can send a message letting me know about your connection to the schools and your interests, along with a sample of your writing.

2) I changed the name of the blog --- at least the name that appears at the top of the blog --- from "Saving Seattle Public Schools" to "Seattle Public Schools" because "Saving" didn't seem to be an accurate description of what we are trying to do for Seattle Public Schools. I played around with the idea of holding a naming brainstorm on the blog, but, for now have decided that simple is better. The URL may also change in the future, but only if I can arrange for auto-forwarding or some other easy way to get people from the current URL to the new one.

3) Several people have told me that it is difficult for them to follow the comments on the blog, particularly when conversations are happening on several different posts at once. As the blog administrator, I get an e-mail every time someone posts a comment, with a link at the bottom to the actual comment on the blog, so it is easy for me to follow. How does it work for blog readers? Can you get comments e-mailed to you? And if so, how? I could dig in Blogger Help to try to find answers to these questions, but I'm hoping (expecting) that some of you already know what to do and can give advice to others on how to managing commenting.

4) I am considering writing commenting guidelines that define what is and what isn't acceptable when commenting on this blog. Does this seem like a good idea? Why or why not?

When I was talking with Brita Butler-Wall the morning of the last School Board meeting, she made a reference to "your blog community." I was struck by that phrase, and reminded of the fact that it is truly possible to create community online, and to work together for positive change.


Charlie Mas said...

I periodically check the bottom of each thread for updates. I don't rely on the link that tells me how many comments are in the thread.

I have today, for the first time, posted a comment regarding APP. I can post more on APP as there is a lot going on right now. The District is reconfiguring APP at all grade levels, relocating and splitting the program. Because APP is a program rather than a school, there is none of the public process that comes with closing a school - no vote of the Board, no public hearings, just decisions made by a closed and anonymous committee.

This year the job of Manager of Advanced Learning was changed from a full-time position to 0.3 FTE.

Advanced Learning programs have been fighting for their lives for over five years, and will have to continue that fight for at least another two. If it seems that APP and Spectrum families testify before the Board a lot, that's why.

Consider this: a Board member put forward a plan that would place APP grades 1-3 at one building and grade 4 and 5 at another building. Can you imagine that recommendation being made about your child's school? Can you imagine a Board member suggesting that your child attend one school for kindergarten, another for grades 1-3, then move to a third elementary school for grades 4 and 5 before moving to middle school?

Most of the conflicts over APP and Spectrum occur in private meetings and the rest of the district community never hears of them. If people are interested, I can report on those discussions and decisions.

Anonymous said...

First, hats off to Beth for doing the hard work involved in this blog. I had thought of doing this for several months and didn't get to it and was delighted to see her blog. I, too, am willing to be a contributor, somewhat at large, given that I have a lot of interests/concerns from APP/Spectrum to WASL to high schools to bilingual ed to special ed.

Name of blog; I vote for simple.

Comments; I check back and if I see the number has changed, I look for new posts.