‘Tis The Season for BS

While most of the rest of the country is getting a short breather from the mess of elections this year, we in Virginia get the pleasure of a race for governor and many other state offices.

I can tell it’s campaign season because the newspapers, radio, television and my mail box are full of claims from candidates who claim they have the solution to our traffic mess.

Of course, all the people running four years ago, including the guy who won, made exactly the same promise. And everyone four years before that.

However, all of their plans involve paving over more land and none deal with the stupid growth patterns. Don’t bother with talking about telecommuting and don’t you dare suggest anyone give up their SAV (suburban assault vehicle).

Four years from now the politicians trying to squeeze votes out of this area in 2009 will be offering the same old crap.

Clueing in the Principal

Alexander Russo, an education writer who blogs at This Week in Education, has a very brief overview of educators who blog in this month’s Scholastic Administrator. This is one segment of the magazine’s monthly section on technology so you won’t find anything new to someone who’s been paying even the slightest attention to educational blogging.

However, it’s nice to see that someone is putting the issue in front of the people running the system in a medium they do read. Once we get principal reading blogs, the next step is to help them understand the instructional value of fostering student blogging.

Something Worth Importing

Here’s an idea from Singapore that we need to bring to this country. Their Education Ministry and the country’s largest telecommunications company recently held the first national inter-school blogging competition. The winners were a team from a junior college and one from a girls high school.

Fifty schools entered the competition with blogs being "evaluated in terms of the depth and clarity of thought as well as the creativity of presentation by a panel". In addition, 18,000 votes were cast for the most popular blog in the group.

"Depth and clarity of thought" and "creativity". Definitely something we need to foster in schools on this side of the world.

Cutting the Electronic Leash

I have a big complaint about Blackberries. For those of you lucky enough not to have one of these things, a Blackberry is an electronic device that allows the user to send and receive email using a cellular connection.

Now that all of the principals, and many central office folks, in our overly large school district have been hooked on "crackberries", something very annoying is happening. People with the devices now assume everyone else has one and expect a near-instant reply to their messages.

Back in ancient times, when we first got email, people were happy if they got a reply within a few days. As time moved along and this new form of communication became the norm, the expected reply time to a message became shorter and shorter. Today, people with these hideous devices expect the whole world to respond within minutes.

No, I’m not whiny because I didn’t get a new toy. I was offered a Blackberry (I’m not "essential" so it wasn’t required :-). I turned it down. I’m already plenty wired, thank you. Just don’t expect my email response time to be measured in milliseconds.