Posts tagged ‘education’

Who Is Eduwonkette?

Education blogs have been buzzing lately over the identity of eduwonkette, an Education Week blogger who isn’t afraid to put herself in the middle of some contentious education policy and research debates. Maybe it’s her bullish nature that causes some bloggers to take issue with her anonymity. Or maybe it’s the topics she chooses to take on. After all, almost everyone excuses anonymous teacher bloggers who write about their classrooms, students, and life in the trenches. But the scope of eduwonkette’s writing isn’t as narrow as that of a teacher blogger. She analyzes and critiques prominent education research, policy decisions, and public figures. And she does this all under the very visible auspices of Education Week – the weekly newspaper in the education world.

The latest debate about her identity seems to have been fueled by an article in the New York Sun, “An Anonymous Blogger Becomes Thorn in City’s Side,” which describes eduwonkette’s influence and how she has been incredibly frank in her disagreement with some of the decisions made by Mayor Bloomberg and New York City’s Department of Education. The article says Andrew Rotherham, the man behind another prominent education blog called Eduwonk, challenged eduwonkette’s decision to write her blog anonymously.

“I don’t think this is going to be remembered as Ed Week’s finest hour,” he said. “It’s this issue of you got all this information to readers, without a vital piece of information for them to put it in context.”

Meanwhile, Jay Greene, an education researcher, disagrees with eduwonkette’s belief that it’s important to consider the source of a paper or study when determining its credibility. He challenges eduwonkette to change her viewpoint and agree with him, or reveal her true identity:

“I caught her [eduwonkette] in a glaring contradiction: she asserts that the credibility of the source of information is an important part of assessing the truth of a claim yet her anonymity prevents everyone from assessing her credibility.  I prefer that she resolve this contradiction by agreeing with my earlier defense of her anonymity that the truth of a claim is not dependent on who makes it.  But she has to resolve this one way or another — either she ends her anonymity or she drops the argument that we should assess the source when determining truth.”

Hmm…. Does this debate distill down to the fact that these education movers and shakers are unsettled by eduwonkette’s critiques and are simply taking cheap shots at her concealed identity as a result? Or is it truly irresponsible for eduwonkette to publicly criticize others behind the cartoon figure of an education superwoman?

For her part, eduwonkette writes:

“Blogging is free-form exchange, and the blogger is judged by the quality of his or her arguments and content by readers who seek out the blogger. Blogs are grassroots online communities where everyone, irrespective of their identity, is entitled to an opinion.”

One could argue that even with a concealed identity, the eduwonkette blog is still at the mercy of public scrutiny. And Alexander Russo, when he’s not “confessing” to being eduwonkette, suggests anonymous blogging can allow for complete candor.

I’m not sure what I think. I do know that I’m not changing my mind about blogging anonymously (not that I’ve tried particularly hard to keep my identity a secret). I don’t want to have to second guess whether every little thing I type will come back to haunt me, my employer, or any future employers. In other words, while I strive to write responsibly, I appreciate that I can be open and honest. Meanwhile, I like that eduwonkette’s views are promoting interesting online discourse. The edblog world is a little spicier with her in it.


July 16, 2008 at 5:55 pm Leave a comment

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