We live in very interesting news-gathering times. The Internet has made us a deal: each of us gets to be a reporter/publisher, but the established sources of information (newspaper, TV/Radio) don’t do nearly as much reporting as they used to. For instance, there just aren’t as many newspaper as there used to be. Most folks seem perfectly happy with this arrangement, with the vast majority focusing on football games and the ongoing slew of “viral” stories about shootings, diseases and whatnot, while a tiny minority of geeks about the individual issue dig through the Internet and “talk” with very few other issue geeks via their isolated computer caves. Personally, I wonder if we’ve made a very good deal here.
Case in point: How does one find out what the New Mexico Public Education Department is doing? I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a big fan of its work, but any objective observer would most likely agree the agency isn’t the most forthcoming when it comes to news, policy decisions and such. News/information flows almost exclusively from its Press office to the Albuquerque Journal, which publishes what the Press office puts out. There’s typically a few “other” views and reactions sprinkled in from teacher’s unions and other players, but, by and large, the Journal just issues the press release. There are exceptions (mining the SBA scores to determine that they haven’t really done well at all in the last five years comes to mind), but even in those cases PED and its spokesperson Larry Behrens gets the “last word” and chance to deflect the bad and take credit for the perceived “good.”
So what’s a K-12 education public policy geek to do? Thanks for asking. Here’s a completely unpatented and sure-fire non-moneymaking way to find out what the PED is doing:
- Go to the PED’s absolutely lousy website;
- Find the strangely placed “Search PED” graphic at the bottom right of the never-changing front page;
- Put something in the search box (e.g., EOC)
- PED uses Google for its search feature, go to “Search Tools” and make your search only for most recent stuff (the past week, as shown below works well if you’re the typical issue geek and search quite a bit)
- Read the resulting PowerPoints (boy does the PED love PowerPoint!), obscure memo edicts and such
- Ponder why only you and three other people in the state know about this stuff; also ponder whether that makes you “informed” or merely “incurably insane.”
Thanks for taking time to read this primer and enjoy your Internet day, whether it’s now spent blissfully catching up on rising sales of Haz Mat suits in response to Ebola or becoming incurably insane via the PED website.
Addendum: Did any of you fellow cave-dwelling K-12 education public policy geeks see this slide from the October 22nd Superintendents’ Meeting with PED? Is it worth getting out of our caves, adjusting to the natural light and talking to a real human about getting one of these-there “waivers”? Nah….probably not.