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.

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.