Archive for February, 2011

Social Media’s Impact on Today’s Revolutions

Hosni Mubarak is not likely a household name in the bayous of south Louisiana or the cotton fields of north Louisiana. But his recent demise as president of Egypt should be a lesson worth considering for the Pelican state.

It is widely acknowledged that social media – primarily Facebook and You Tube – helped spread a message and drive the revolt that forced Mubarak from office after a 30-year rule. Similarly, Louisianans who are tired of crony politicians, especially at the local level (think school boards and police juries) could use a similar approach to finally force local Louisiana politicians to focus on doing their jobs instead trying to keep their jobs. Certainly, making generalizations about a class of people (local politicians in this case) can be dangerous and certainly, Louisiana has well-meaning citizen-legislators. But something must change at the local level if our great state is going to thrive over the long-term. For example, if you’re tired of our schools being ranked at or near the bottom of the southern and national rankings, then speak out – use the tools at your disposal – hold school board members accountable. Make them understand their roles are to protect and promote our students not themselves.

Remember, all politics is local. And social.

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Teacher Tenure

I can’t believe I’m writing this because two of my sisters are educators and so is my mother.  But I am.  I’m wading into the education reform debate and specifically teacher tenure.  As a general concept, it’s a bad idea.  There are no rewards for excellence and no consequences for failure. Our children deserve better than that outdated, union building concept.

However, before all the teachers gang-tackle me for my “ill-informed, misguided attempt at sounding smart”, let me say this.  Most teachers, on an individual basis, are awesome.  They care about their students, they care about the institution, and they care about educating.

Unfortunately, they are hamstrung by a federal bureaucracy that requires mediocrity, forbids creativity, and mandates that national student testing is the only way to measure teachers.  The union leadership loves this because it keeps them in power where they can negotiate “benefits”.  The teachers hate the testing but love the security.  Everyone suffers as a result.  We suck in math and science.  Even physical education (PE) is on a precarious path as school districts across the country are eliminating or limiting these programs.  No wonder we have a childhood obesity problem, but that’s a subject for another post.

Bottom line, unless and until the children come first, our education system will continue to fall behind the rest of the world.