As politically oriented Web logs become increasingly popular, more education groups are setting out to join the sometimes-edgy medium. The 1.3 million-member American Federation of Teachers last week stepped into the cyber arena with a blog that is part of its campaign geared toward the scheduled 2007 reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. The blog is called “NCLB, Let’s Get It Right.”
Two AFT employees, identified only as John and Michele, are doing the blogging, and calling attention to what the union views as problems with the federal law. In a blog entry last week, they had called attention to an editorial in The Washington Post encouraging the dismissal of District of Columbia teachers who lacked proper certification.
Commenting on the Post’s editorial, John wrote that the dismissed teachers could wind up in the city’s charter schools. The No Child Left Behind law, he wrote, “is opening up markets for uncertified teachers even as it demands that teachers in regular public schools meet stricter requirements.”
AFT spokesman Alex Wohl said the blog was “a place for our members to go when they want to think seriously about the law.”
Mr. Wohl said that although the AFT takes positions on various aspects of the federal law, the blog will welcome thoughtful opposing views. He pointed out that the site, at www.letsgetitright.org/blog, includes a disclaimer that the blog does not necessarily represent the official views of the teachers’ union.
Barbara Hunter, the communications director of the National School Boards Association, who also oversees that organization’s Web log—BoardBuzz at boardbuzz.nsba.org—said groups like hers must walk a fine line.
“Blogs can be cheeky and informational, and for organizations, we have to maintain a delicate balance between being too outlandish and really delivering information in a lively way,” she said.
But Andrew J. Rotherham, a co-founder of the think tank Education Sector, who runs a popular blog, Eduwonk.com, that frequently comments on federal education policy, said organizations hosting blogs often find walking that fine line difficult.
“I have yet to see a blog affiliated with an institution … that doesn’t create headaches for the organization or end up being really boring,” he said. “The AFT has historically said lots of interesting things, so I hope it’s a blog that proves my contention wrong.”
A version of this article appeared in the January 25, 2006 edition of Education Week