“Not me! Absolutely not me!” stammered Randy, my friend and colleague. The discussion at the superintendent’s meeting had turned to blogging. “I get enough criticism as it is. I don’t need another whacko taking pot shots at me from left field on the internet,” he added. He winced as he said it. “Why should I provide an easy forum for another critic?” he added.
“Randy, don’t you think the rational folks in your school district recognize a whacko when they hear one?” I responded.
“Yeah, most of them probably do but I still don’t want to lie awake at night wondering what the next critic is posting on the internet,” he responded.
“Do you lie awake now?” I asked with a smirk.
“Well sure! Doesn’t every superintendent do that occasionally?” he asked. “I just don’t want to make it easier for people like that to have a voice.”
“I hear you,” I acknowledged, “but what you don’t realize is that now every person has a voice if they want to be heard. The explosion of internet communication through blogging, web sites, chat rooms, instant messaging, emails, and even text messaging means every Tom, Dick and Harry has a voice if they want one. The modern tech savvy superintendent recognizes that they better have a technological forum established BEFORE it all hits the fan and the whackos show up.”
“Listen Randy,” I continued, “If you have an internet presence that’s popular, educational, and already established, your rational public will bury your whackos when they show up. They get embarrassed by people like that who try to represent your community!”
“I don’t know Mark,” he sighed. “I think my skin is too thin and my head is too thick to learn how to blog!”
I chuckled at his insight and added, “Maybe you better start blogging to them before they start blogging about you!”
He shrugged his shoulders and sighed. “You can’t teach an old dog, new tricks. I lasted this long, I can make it few more years.”
I commented, “You might survive, but the new superintendent is expected to thrive, not just survive. Blogging is just one more potential tool in the tool box of the modern school superintendent.”
“Well, then just consider me ‘old school’ then,” he said with a grin.
I nodded and replied, “Old school I can understand, but while you’re sipping margaritas in an RV park in Arizona, our younger colleagues are going to be on the front lines. Who knows what challenges they will face? If we don’t find new ways of getting the good word out about public education, the term ‘old school’ might mean more than you think!”
As the meeting ended and we went our separate ways, I wondered once again what the future would hold for superintendents on the front lines of the war on public education.
This excerpt is taken from Dr. Mark Stock’s book chapter in Leaders as Communicators and Diplomats by Corwin Press and Sage Publications and reprinted with permission in his book The School Administrator’s Guide to Blogging by Rowman & Littlefield.
The opinions expressed in LeaderTalk are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.