Federal File

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World Wide Wonks

So, you’ve got your morning coffee. You flip on the computer. Fingers fall to the keyboard and … if you’re a policy wonk, or have any wonkish leanings, you could do worse than visit a new Web log, or blog, aptly named

It offers a daily dose of information from the education policy world, blended with a shot of attitude and a dash of humor.

Make no mistake. The blog has some pretty strong opinions, whether it’s defending the No Child Left Behind Act, criticizing the Bush administration, or promoting charter schools. After all, it’s run by the 21st Century Schools Project at the Progressive Policy Institute, a think tank associated with the centrist Democratic Leadership Council in Washington.

But even those who disagree will find plenty of useful information and maybe fuel for a good argument.

The blog contains countless links to news stories and other analysis, from a piece last week by the American Federation of Teachers on what "proficient" means under federal law, to debate over changing South Carolina’s charter schools law, and even an excerpt from an essay on the education philosopher John Dewey. (Full disclosure: The blog includes links to Education Week stories.)

Andrew J. Rotherham

"One of the great things about the Internet, it provides an opportunity for more real-time commentary," said Andrew J. Rotherham, the primary author of the blog and a former education adviser to President Clinton.

"We’re transparent in the sense that … we have a point of view, and I think people like that," he said. "We’re not journalists. And I think people also like that we’re more than happy to have a spirited debate."

Most links are accompanied by at least a little, and sometimes a lot, of Eduwonk commentary.

Mr. Rotherham estimates that the blog has had about 20,000 visits since it started the last week of April. He acknowledges that there’s never time to include as much as he’d like.

"I have a day job, so I can’t write about everything," he said. Or, as he put it just before Memorial Day: "Eduwonk is going to be spending time this holiday weekend with the Eduwife and the Edupooch so posting will be light, if at all, but we’ll be back Tuesday."

—Erik W. Robelen

Vol. 23, Issue 39, Page 28

Published in Print: June 9, 2004, as Federal File

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