Courage & Leadership: The Roads Not Taken By Schwartz & Niehoff

October 29, 2007


Via
Orient Lodge

By ALDON HYNES

It has been a while since I wrote about the Avery Doninger case, but things are continuing to progress. On October 17th, the National School Boards Association sponsored an online forum on the Educational Benefits of Social Networking for Students and Teachers?.

Will Richardson led the discussion. He has a great blog about blogging and education. I had submitted a question to him about Avery’s case and he responded,

Without knowing the specifics of this particular case, it’s hard to know exactly what options the administration had. But I would have to ask what this particular reaction teaches the students? The reality is that we simply cannot control what people are going to write or say about us these days, and that there are all sorts of gray areas that go along with these situations. I wonder, however, whether the administrators themselves are modeling the appropriate use of these technologies for their students, and whether or not the use of blogs and other social tools are being taught in the curriculum. I think the biggest reason students make poor decisions at times about the uses of these technologies is that no one is teaching them how to do it well and they have few models for their use.

There are many important points that Will brings up. The first is that we simply cannot control what people are going to write or say about us these days. Actually, we never could. It is just now, what gets said about us is searchable and persistent.

As to whether the administrators themselves are modeling the appropriate use of these technologies for their students, and whether or not the use of blogs and other social tools are being taught in the curriculum, I don’t know. I surely haven’t been able to find Paula or Karissa’s blogs yet.

I cannot help but wonder how things would have turned out differently if, instead of prohibiting Avery from running for re-election, Paula Schwartz had set up her own blog with a post something like,

Recently, a student leader, frustrated about developments concerning Jamfest, posted an entry on her blog referring to staff at the central office as Douche Bags. We appreciate her passion and commitment to the student body, but we don’t think that the way she expressed herself reflected well on her, or helped advance her case. What do you think? Please join Principal Niehoff and me for an open symposium on how to advocate effectively online. It will take place…

That would have shown courage and leadership. It would have been an opportunity to build better bonds with the students, teachers and citizens of Region 10. It would have taken advantage of a teachable moment, and made it available to the community. Unfortunately, even now, Superintendent Schwartz and Principal Niehoff have failed in this area.

The same is not true with Avery.

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