Skip to main content

The Philadelphia School District has blocked me from following its Twitter account

The Philadelphia Inquirer has done first-rate work this week with its series on violence in Philadelphia public schools. The overall effect of the series has been to re-affirm for me—based on prior observations—that Supt. Arlene Ackerman and the district leadership are more concerned with clamping down on critics and whistleblowers than they are with fixing the district's substantive problems.

My opinion was reinforced today when the @PhillyEducation, the district's official Twitter feed, decided to mount a sustained attack on the Philadelphia Daily News for running a Photoshopped picture of Ackerman with a chainsaw in her hands—to illustrate coming budget cuts. Word of the feud got around quickly, and I did two things:

* I decided to follow @PhillyEducation's feed.

* I offered a series of my own Tweets criticizing the district for how it was handling the situation. I aimed my Tweets at Tara Murtha, a writer at Philadelphia Weekly, whose Tweet first alerted me to the imbroglio. I was irritated, as you can see, but I don't think my commentary was out of bounds:

Cut to this evening. I wanted to check into how the conversation had proceeded after I moved on to more productive work. Only to find out the school district had blocked me from subscribing to its feed:

From a technical standpoint, this isn't a huge deal. The district's feed is still open—I can see it if I just go to the feed page—but it is irritating. And it should be shocking: whoever runs the social networking voice of a government body has decided that mild criticism warrants being blocked from receiving "official" information about that body.

But it also proves my point. The district is more interested in blocking out the voices that talk about what it's doing wrong than it is fixing those problems. The folks at North Broad Street don't know me from Adam; I'm just another citizen, taxpayer and parent they feel free to ignore. It's a lot easier to block me on Twitter than it is to provide safe and adequate education to the children of Philadelphia.


Popular posts from this blog


I've been making some life changes lately — trying to use the time I have, now that I'm back in Kansas, to improve my health and lifestyle. Among the changes: More exercise. 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. Doesn't sound like a lot, but some is more than none, and I know from experience that getting overambitious early leads to failure. So. Thirty minutes a day.

One other thing: Yoga, a couple of times a week. It's nothing huge — a 15-minute flexibility routine downloaded from an iPhone app. But I've noticed that I'm increasingly limber.

Tonight, friends, I noticed a piece of trash on the floor. I bent over at the waist and picked it up, and threw it away.

Then I wept. I literally could not remember the last time I'd tried to pick something off the floor without grunting and bracing myself. I just did it.

Small victories, people. Small victories.

Liberals: We're overthinking this. Hillary didn't lose. This is what it should mean.

Nate Cohn of the New York Times estimates that when every vote is tallied, some 63.4 million Americans will have voted for Clinton and 61.2 million for Trump. That means Clinton will have turned out more supporters than any presidential candidate in history except for Obama in 2008 and 2012. And as David Wasserman of Cook Political Report notes, the total vote count—including third party votes—has already crossed 127 million, and will “easily beat” the 129 million total from 2012. The idea that voters stayed home in 2016 because they hated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is a myth. We already know the Electoral College can produce undemocratic results, but what we don't know is why — aside from how it serves entrenched interests — it benefits the American people to have their preference for national executive overturned because of archaic rules designed, in part, to protect the institution of slavery. 

A form of choosing the national leader that — as has happened in …

I'm not cutting off my pro-Trump friends

Here and there on Facebook, I've seen a few of my friends declare they no longer wish the friendship of Trump supporters — and vowing to cut them out of their social media lives entirely.

I'm not going to do that.

To cut ourselves off from people who have made what we think was a grievous error in their vote is to give up on persuading them, to give up on understanding why they voted, to give up on understanding them in any but the most cartoonish stereotypes.

As a matter of idealism, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on democracy. As a matter of tactics, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on ever again winning in a democratic process.

And as a long-term issues, confining ourselves to echo chambers is part of our national problem.

Don't get me wrong: I expect a Trumpian presidency is a disaster, particularly for people of color. And in total honesty: My own relationships have been tested by this campaign season. There's probably some damage…