Twitter’s Role in the Education Debate

Twitter is a powerful tool to connect people with many interests.  As a public school advocate, I’m eager to hop on Twitter each night and catch up on the latest education news.  More importantly, I’m eager to read what the latest power players in education reform are saying.  On Friday night, I had the opportunity to dialogue with who education power players: Diane Ravitch and Dr. Steve Perry.  Both are people that I admire, and one day I hope to chat with them face-to-face.  As a fourth year teacher, I am constantly seeking the wisdom from more seasoned people in the education arena.  Both Ravitch and Perry share many of my views.

Below are our conversations:

I felt obligated to ask Diane Ravitch some questions after watching her debate with Geoffrey Canada on Education Nation.  It rocked my core that two people, who agree on many things, were actually debating.  Geoffrey Canada is the founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone–an innovative way to reform not only schools, but an entire community in Harlem, NY.  Diane Ravitch, a former Secretary of Education, and now a historian and professor at New York University who advocates for teachers, whole child education, and eradicating poverty to improve our nation’s schools.  It perplexed me that they were debating.  Now don’t get me wrong, people can debate.  However, the current status quo vs “reformer” arguments are divisive.  Quite frankly, I don’t view Diane Ravitch as the status quo.  I think she’s one of the most progressive thinkers of our time.  I do believe Geoffrey Canada to be an innovative reformer because of his Harlem Children Zone approach.  Nevertheless, I personally believe that the back and forth in education debates are halting progress.  Therefore, I asked Diane Ravitch some questions on Twitter.  To my luck, she replied.

@DarlaBunting The current education debate is polarizing. We must find that middle ground. #urbaned #edreform @dianeravitch
@DarlaBunting The @dianeravitch and Geoffrey Canada debate on@EducationNation seemed a bit exaggerated. I’m sure you both agree on more things.
@DarlaBunting Why is the current education reform debate being framed as us vs them or status quo vs “reform”? @dianeravitch We know it’s deeper than that
@DarlaBunting How can we change how the national dialogue around education reform @dianeravitch?
@DianeRavitch @DarlaBunting Current education policy is crazy. Test whatever moves, then fire teachers, close schools. That’s not improvement strategy.
@DianeRavitch @DarlaBunting @EducationNation I admire HCZ. I wish that all schools could have same resources, social & medical services for kids.
@DarlaBunting @DianeRavitch I agree, and it frustrates me that the debate is being framed in a way that is halting progress.
DianeRavitch @DarlaBunting @EducationNation We were pushed to sharpen debate. Geoff likes to fire teachers, close schools, I believe in helping people.
Also, Dr. Steve Perry caused a Twitter frenzy when he tweeted the following:
DrStevePerry Failed schools must be closed and the children must be provided w/ vouchers so they can attend good schools in their lifetime.
Since I know that the problem isn’t solved by simply closing failing schools.  I wanted to pick Dr. Perry’s brain to dig a little deeper.  So I began to tweet him:
@DarlaBunting Are you a supporter of school turnaround? @DrStevePerry
@DarlaBunting Yes, vouchers are a good interim solution while we work to create better schools across the board. It shouldnt be long-term.@DrStevePerry
@DarlaBunting When u say “close failing schools,” do u mean permanently OR are u inferring that they will reopen them under new management?@DrStevePerry
@DarlaBunting The problem is that there are not enough good schools. So it’s not just a matter of simply “closing failing schools” @DrStevePerry
@DarlaBunting Many parents want their children in better schools. However, transportation and access are major issues. @DrStevePerry
@DarlaBunting Hopefully, @DrStevePerry answers my questions. I admire him & his work. I just believe it’s deeper than just closing failing schools

Finally, he replied.  🙂

@DrStevePerry Dr. Steve Perry  @DarlaBunting Ur questions are great. We’re only patient w/ schools not when we work in them. But when OUR kids go to them we’re impatient
@DrStevePerry Dr. Steve Perry @DarlaBunting As of today there aren’t enough good schlz but that is bc the unions have stopped the growth of good new schlz.*
@DarlaBunting Okay, now we’re talking. @DrStevePerry I knew there was more beyond that one statement.
I love engaging in dialogues about the current state and future of our nation’s public schools.  Twitter makes it that much easier to connect with people from all walks of life doing many different things in improving the life opportunities of our nation’s most neediest kids.  I look forward to following more education advocates and reformers.  Follow me @darlabunting and I’ll follow back.
*Now, let me be clear.  I do not believe that unions are the sole reason for our nation’s failing school system.

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