You know where one of the most thoughtful, nuanced conversations about teacher quality and evaluations is taking place? Facebook.
That’s right, a forum in which haters are perhaps most likely to unleash their volatile worst is home to a downright civilized exchange about tying teachers’ job security to student performance, the political season’s most incendiary education issue.
You know what else? The 125 members who joined Contract for Student Achievement’s page before it was opened to anyone include folks who would sooner move to Saskatchewan than break bread together — and they appear to be getting somewhere.
Exhibit No. 1: Rep. Branden Petersen, an Andover Republican who has put a great deal of energy into the controversial effort to end LIFO, or “last in, first out,” has chatted amiably there with Minneapolis Federation of Teachers steward Jimmy Barnhill.
I could go on about the philosophical odd couplings — and the fact that some of the Twin Cities most prominent education policy types are chatting with regular folk like, oh, parents — but you can go there and see for yourself.
Regular folk, you may note if you do, are pretty good at finding actual research on the Internet. Given a public forum no one can gavel to a close, they also turn out to be pretty adept at asking policymakers nuanced questions.
The page was created last year by former Minneapolis School Board member Chris Stewart — yes, the same Chris Stewart whose penchant for calling them like he sees them occasionally sparked headlines — to share information about the Contract for Student Achievement, a coalition of groups including his Action for Equity and Put Kids First Minneapolis, a grassroots Minneapolis contract-reform effort, pushing for changes to Minneapolis Public Schools’ contract with its teachers.
I’m not entirely sure whether a friendly vibe can travel through cyberspace the way barbs and innuendo can, but it would sure be nice if the thoughtful, respectful tone of the group’s discourse is what goes viral.