Mystery Education Theater 3000

Month: May 2008

Collective Bargaining Season Is Here

This post started because I noticed another mistake in the local news article about bloggers that I posted on here. isn’t the United Teachers of Richmond blog, but the blog of a faction within the teacher’s union.

When I went to this blog, I saw an interesting entry describing their position on the contract negotiations that are in progress. (The 3-year contracts all expire at the end of this school year.) If you are interested (and you should be), the school district posts links to copies of the current contracts in PDF-text format on the About WCCUSD page.

Not Just a Blogger, But a Candidate Too (FPPC ID#1307293)

Here it is:

I now have a PAC, because I plan on running for the WCCUSD school board in November (2 seats are up). I’ve never had a PAC or run for an elected government office before, so it’s a special moment for me. The official filing period doesn’t begin till July 14, but I want to get started as soon as possible.

5 Years of wccusdtalk

As I mentioned in a previous post, as of May 19th (yesterday), wccusdtalk has been going strong for five years. wccusdtalk is a Yahoo Group about the West Contra Costa Unified School District that makes its messages public and that allows its established members a pretty free rein. Like the Internet in general, it needs to be taken with a grain of salt (and maybe a stiff drink occasionally), but it remains an indispensable resource for knowing what’s going on in our district. Within this community, there is room for both critics of the established order and a “truth squad” to uphold the established order.

It all started back in 2003, when the last major budget crisis was shaking things up. Laura Soble and Jane Breyer, two Madera parents, were using emails to a growing group of people to rally support for defending Classroom Size Reduction and high school guidance counselors from the budget axe. As part of this group, I wanted a more efficient method of managing these communications than using emails with giant shifting “To:” lists, so I decided on using Yahoo Groups for this. I set up wccusdtalk and eventually got everyone to move over to this list for communicating. Marsha Williamson was the first member and Helen Bean made the first real posting on the list. I was moderator for the first year or two and then Cathy Travlos stepped up to take over. After the smoke cleared a little, no real organization emerged from this group of people, but wccusdtalk remained and still remains to this day.

An Excellent Site from a School Board Member

I stumbled across an excellent site recently when I was looking for some live version of the expired article from the Contra Costa Times on WCCUSD Board Member Dave Brown walking out. (It had some quotes from me, which makes it _very_ important 🙂 ) I found a copy of the text on this page as part of an interesting discussion of the responsibilities of a school board member by a school board member from Alameda. The is not a blog, but the frequently updated front page announcements have a blog like quality. Anyway, check this site out if you’re interest in school district governance issues.

Education Blogging Makes Local Paper

The local newspaper, the Contra Costa Times, recently did an article called Typing up a storm to discuss the impact of blogging in the local school scene (Mt. Diablo and West Contra Costa school district). Part of the article was a list of blogs. Here it is:

Well, of course, what immediately attracted my attention is that they misspelled my name. It’s “Cowens,” not “Cowen”. Here are some less important things I would add:

  1. Blogging require a lot of work to keep providing a flow of entries to keep people coming back. This is an area that I could certainly improve on for this blog.
  2. Public mailing lists provide a similar function of rallying people on the Internet without requiring the maintenance of a Web site. A Yahoo list I set up for a group of WCCUSD parents (including myself) called wccusdtalk is still going strong after almost 5 years. In fact, the 5th anniversary will be May 19th.
  3. Blogging relies on being able to reference items like newspaper articles that stay accessible. The Contra Costa Times has an irritating policy of effectively killing links after 90 days. (A search in the archives and then payment is required.) The SF Chronicle has a more enlightened policy of allowing permanent linking. So, if I have a choice between referencing the Chronicle or the Times, which one am I going to pick?
    What some people do is quote articles in full, which, beyond any legal or ethical questions, also means the Times is losing potential hits on the articles. Please, Times, support blogging by allowing permanent links or some means for blogs to be permitted permanent linking.

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