My Thoughts on a Blog in its Nascent Stages

A friend e-mailed me asking about advice for building his blog....based on my experiences here, here are some thoughts.

(If you are detecting a pattern with my blogging, it's that I'm so busy with moving, etc, that original content is going to be a little rare for the next while....)

There are a few steps I would take:
  • First is to post links to your blog from whereever people read about you: linkedin, facebook, a-twitter, etc. Your blog's first audience are the people that are interested in you, and by extension, your blog.
  • Second, I would install something that tracks your blog's traffic. I use sitemeter, which allows me to see the patterns of visitors/pageviews. It does this by posting a little image on your blog, and then recording every time your blog (and that image) is loaded.
  • Third, you want to reach people that are interested in your topic. That means finding other political blogs and commenting with your blog in the "website" or "link" title of the comment field - this will leave a link to your blog. Your website should have a quick, easy-to-recognize name/URL - is short and sweet.
  • Fourth, you want to make it easy for people to subscribe to your blog via RSS, etc. Google/Blogspot makes this easy with a default link.
  • Lastly, I would make sure that your blog has a strong design / content that makes it memorable - I try to have lots of interesting links up and down the rightblog  hand side, and while I'm not super-focused on visitor counts (I don't update enough for that), I do hope that my blog's content has some use to people - which is why they come back every day.


A friend sent me this link, which reads in part:
Every spring without fail, a Teach for America recruiter approaches me and asks if he or she can come to my classes and recruit students for TFA, and every year, without fail, I give the recruiter the same answer: “Sorry. Until Teach for America changes its objective to training lifetime educators and raises the time commitment to five years rather than two, I will not allow TFA to recruit in my classes. The idea of sending talented students into schools in high-poverty areas and then, after two years, encouraging them to pursue careers in finance, law, and business in the hope that they will then advocate for educational equity rubs me the wrong way.”

But the most objectionable aspect of Teach for America—other than its contempt for lifetime educators—is its willingness to create another pathway to wealth and power for those already privileged, in the rapidly expanding Education-Industrial Complex, which offers numerous careers for the ambitious and well connected. An organization that began by promoting idealism and educational equity has become, to all too many of its recruits, a vehicle for profiting from the misery of America’s poor.

The thesis of the article, in short, is that TFA has become a "stepping stone" for professional success, instead of a breeding ground for lifelong educators. The author uses the acceptance rates of Fordham vs Yale to support this thesis.

Flatly, I don't buy it. First, the author seems to make a logically false argument that the lack of progress in these areas is indicative of TFA's ineffectiveness, which is emotionally resonate but intellectually empty: it could just as easily be said that the lack of progress is because TFA hasn't done enough. Second, there's a good chance that the average student at Yale is probably more capable to pick up a teaching career out of nowhere than a kid at Fordham, given the kinds of students that enter those institutions (to be clear, we are talking about admissions, not educational quality). Third, there are solid arguments to be made that improvements are possible in public school education, though I think we face a crisis of parental responsibility just as great as problems within schools.

TFA does have problems: it is seen as a "good person resume booster," which ends its tour of service before people can really master their field. But I think there is a value and benefit with the cross-cultural connections that the author seems to deplore. No matter how elite or effete our surroundings, we must always remember that there is poverty and injustice all around the air-conditioned board rooms where decisions are made. Power carries a responsibility, and hopefully, TFA can help to build awareness of that responsibility - and the failures of this country to meet its obligations thus far.

First Day At Work!!!

Madly exciting. Lots of information. Awesome co-workers. Further comment will come once I actually know what's going on.