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About LeaderTalk and Education Week

In the not-too-distant future, LeaderTalk will transition to Education Week.  In other words, the blog will become part of the growing family of blogs under Education Week’s umbrella.  As an original contributor to LeaderTalk, I’m struggling with that transition.  The text of the e-mail I sent to LeaderTalk contributors is below.  If you, my dear readers of Ed. Insanity, have additional thoughts to help me think through my struggles, I’d appreciate it.

All,
Let me first echo Scott’s congratulatory remarks.  LeaderTalk has become an incredible communication space by and for educational leaders.  I’ve been proud to be an original contributor, though I haven’t written there lately.

That said, I have a philosophical conundrum that you smart people could surely help me think through.

I have always believed that there are too many educators (unlike you all) who are too locally focused and who would do well to consider their position within the larger world of public education. To that end,  I have always thought of Education Week as an incredible publication uniquely positioned to inform educators about important state, national and even international issues in education.  To me, they have always been THE trade publication in education.  When Al Gore invented the Internet…er, once Internet access became nearly ubiquitous, edweek.org was one of my very first stops for my daily reading.  I learned gobs by surfing through edweek.org on a daily basis.  However, some time not too long ago, edweek.org made a decision to go to a subscription service.    They have a few different access plans which you can see here: http://www.edweek.org/offer.html.

So, what’s my problem?  Well, I hate that I can’t read edweek.org fully without paying.  In fact, I think it borders on criminal that they charge for access.  There’s still plenty of content that’s available for free, but there’s lots of really good stuff that’s not.  And, if you play around on edweek.org for just a short period of time, you can’t help but notice the advertising on there. [NOTE: this week is not a good time to explore this issue b/c Ed Week is having a free open house; they’ve opened their site to everyone for a whole week…gee, thanks for the tease.]  I have no problem with ads.  Actually, the advertisements themselves are what should make edweek.org completely open access.  The cost of the top level of access to edweek.org is not enormous; it’s basically $80/year.  But, why should I pay that?  Couldn’t they pass that very minimal cost on to their advertisers who are making money hand over fist?  Shouldn’t they?

Surely, the vast majority, if not all of Education Week’s readers are educators.  And, quite frankly, I’m sick of private vendors taking money from education in this country.  Think about all of the hard-working public school educators who are probably underpaid to begin with who spend their own hard-earned money to equip their classrooms each year.  Now, to have access to THE premiere publication in the field, they have to pay Education Week.  Also, I believe that charging for access online is out of touch with the realities of the modern publishing world and also poorly models the idea of open access to information. eSchool News, easily the premier publication specific to the field of education technology is completely free in print form and online.

If you all can help me understand why I shouldn’t be bothered by Ed Week’s policies, I’d be happy to join you in the transition to becoming one of Ed. Week’s growing number of good blogs.  If not, I’ll have to bow out.  So, thanks in advance for your help.

Best,
JB

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