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Social Media: How Reformers Got Crushed Online In Chicago

image from theantisocialmedia.comMainstream coverage and commentary might have skewed towards Rahm Emanuel's side of the issue, at least initially when it came to the substance, but on social media, teachers and reform critics crushed the Board of Education, City Hall, and reform supporters. 

This blog post tells you about the work of Kenzo Shibata, CTU's social media director: Social media acts as megaphone and sword in CTU strike (Chicago Public Radio)  Kenzo and his kind were more active, much more impassioned (annoyingly euphoric towards the end), and -- for better or worse -- much much more willing to be mean.  

Did it make a difference?  Made it feel different, at the very least, for the bloggers and journalists working online.

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Being "mean" to powerful people who are backed by the White House and mainstream media and funded by billionaires doesn't really count as being mean, especially when the alleged "meanness" is committed by the teachers working the communities our most vulnerable young people.

Sorry. "...working with the community's most vulnerable young people." Brain lapse.

you can try and defend it as much as you want, but it boils down to a laundry list of disreputable (if temporarily effective) behaviors that i don't believe are justifiable: attacks on character or motive, assumptions of motive, willful mischaracterizations, false or exaggerated associations, attacks on class or education, refusal to acknowledge the intent or morality of those you disagree with, refusal to consider compromise, extreme righteousness, using perceived powerlessness as an excuse for malicious behavior, refusal to admit fault or correct previous misrepresentations, false claims of representation (ie, of poor and minority parents).

Just for the record, I disagree and dispute that critics of so-called education "reform" are engaging in disreputable behavior, willful mischaracterizations, misrepresentations, refusal to consider compromise, malicious behavior or false claims of representation. I'm also really surprised that Scholastic is willing to sponsor attacks on teachers and parent volunteers.

hilarious -- just in that last response alone you make false claims against me, misrepresent yourself, and -- most tellingly -- use your perceived powerlessness as an excuse for malicious behavior.

you don't like being disagreed with, which is understandable, but instead of just lodging that disagreement or debating its substance you go straight into attack mode. which sort of proves my point.

i'm not even one of your sworn enemies -- i regularly post materials that you agree with, criticize reformers when they make mistakes, allow comments that debate my views.

ironically, the post under which we are writing now is mainly a critique of reformers and a compliment to reform critics for having prevailed during the strike.

How is it you can post a complaint about your hurt feelings, Alexander, at the same time you hold that your own motivations are beyond examination by your readers?

"The bloggers and journalists working online" felt outnumbered by the mobilized teachers and their supporters, who were "much much more willing to be mean."

There's a difference between a journalist and a hired advocate, even if the advocate believes deeply in the agenda he's promoting. Are you calling yourself a journalist, then?

That would be fine with me, and in fact I have long hoped you would eventually take that posture. You haven't taken that step yet, though. You would need to reexamine your own position with regard to your employers, and take some courageous steps. You do understand that the motivations of journalists and their editors are are a proper subject for examination by the public?

As a paid staffer for a congressional committee overseeing public education, were you enlisted by paid lobbyists, to advocate for particular interests? Was that a violation of a public trust placed in you by your actual employers at the time (the American people)? Were you hired to advocate for their agenda online?

Like teaching, journalism is a profession. We're actually paid to carry the responsibility of professing the standards of teaching, law, medicine, or public inquiry. I do that every minute of every day, and so do the classroom teachers of Chicago.

My experience - mostly on Twitter rather than FB - was that during the strike both sides were often horrifically nasty to each other. Lots of character attacks, including from the anti-strike side, many (prominent) members of which were bizarrely cavalier about claiming that striking teachers didn't "care about the kids". But no doubt about it: CTU supporters were plenty willing to be just as mean, and because they were better represented online it felt somewhat unbalanced (both in terms of who was "winning" and in terms of who was being "mean".) I wasn't sure if I just had an unusually pro-CTU-strike Twitter feed, though.

And virtually nobody seemed to appreciate the pot/kettle irony when being offended at the other sides' accusations that they weren't in it for the kids.

thanks for your comments - the point i'm making here isn't so much about criticizing elected officials and public figures (though that can get pretty out of hand as well), or about nasty generalizations about the other side as a whole (ie who cares about the kids more), but rather the attacks against the character and motives of specific individuals who are simply disagreeing with your position -- teachers accused of being sellouts for questioning how long the strike should go on, parents accused of being bought because they protested to end the strike, journalists and columnists attacked online for producing a story or column that's disagreeable, nonprofit heads you disagree with. it's the critique of individuals (motives, character, incentives) rather than arguments or actions that i find so toxic and hypocritical.

Motivation and character are two different issues. Questioning motivations is a reasonable and necessary activity, in the face of systematic conflicts of interest. Here is a quote from the Smoke and Mirrors piece you cite above:

"Many people writing about academic integrity focus on clear conflicts of interest that can lead to the distortion of research agendas and the risk of corruption."

I think you're the one who knows it's a problem. That's why you don't want to talk about it, but keep bringing it up again and again.

The power of the people was exhibited in this event. I am surprised to see that a social media outlet contributed to this amount of impact, resulting in a strike. I bet facebook and the other social media companies love exposure like this. It reaffirms the belief that your words are heard on these types of sites.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.