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Friday, April 8, 2011

The Right to Blog

“@joe_bower Is there a context where administrators, school board trustees & policy makers should ever NOT want teachers to blog about education? #abed

 This is one of a series of related tweets by Joe Bower that got me thinking. Who should tweet/blog? Who has authority over if and what someone tweets/blogs? What should one tweet/blog about? Are there ethics, guideline &/or standards within your profession about tweets/blogs?

I am going to tackle this from my perspective as a school board trustee. I have been on twitter for just over a year and blogging for just over 6 months. I have been amazed at the information and knowledge I how obtain through being on twitter. This has come simply from the message of the tweet or from the accompanying link to an article, report or blog within the tweet. These posts are composed by parents, teachers, reporters, professor, principals, administrators, trustees, superintendents, ministries, boards, committees or organizations.

I began blogging, A Discovered Passion for Education, when I decided to run as a school board trustee in last year’s Ontario’s Municipal Elections. I thought what harm would there be in using the emerging social media as a campaign tool. My blog consisted of various post about issues in education and an occasional my view of things. Basically I was free to write/blog as I wished within standard/accepted practices. After being elected I questioned whether I would continue blogging or not. I decided to continue but thought (knew) my freedom was now maybe limited. You ask why, read (e) & (f). The Ministry of Education Education Act states the:

“Duties of board members
218.1  A member of a board shall; (a) carry out his or her responsibilities in a manner that assists the board in fulfilling its duties under this Act, the regulations and the guidelines issued under this Act, including but not limited to the board’s duties under section 169.1; (b) attend and participate in meetings of the board, including meetings of board committees of which he or she is a member; (c) consult with parents, students and supporters of the board on the board’s multi-year plan under clause 169.1 (1) (f); (d) bring concerns of parents, students and supporters of the board to the attention of the board; (e) uphold the implementation of any board resolution after it is passed by the board; (f) entrust the day to day management of the board to its staff through the board’s director of education; (g) maintain focus on student achievement and well-being; and (h) comply with the board’s code of conduct.”

Uphold & entrust. Can I blog against the Board’s decision? Can I blog questioning the procedures of the staff? Is this the correct forum for discontent and/or discussion? I don’t believe so. I may state the facts of all sides of the issue and let my readers decide.  One of my goals for blogging was to inform my readers, which I will continue to do.  As time goes on and the learning curve becomes the knowing and leadership curve, I may/will tackle those contentious issues and take that path less ventured.

I don’t feel someone has the right to tell me that I can or cannot blog and what I can blog about. I set my own standards.  What about teachers? Does the teacher have an innovative idea? A new philosophy? What about superintendents? Parents? Students? Trash talking is unacceptable.  Anything that commences, engages and advances discussion can be and should be  ‘put on the table’.  Creativity, an open mind, the ability to see all sides and the right to disagree are the cornerstone of advancement. 

People have so much to share don’t stifle it.

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