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What You Can Learn from Looking at the Twitter Supporters of Jonathan Alter

Publication Date: 2011-06-05

Jonathan Alter created quite a dust-up with his attack on Diane Ravitch's New York Times column. But the truth of the matter is this is just a distraction, taking teacher energy away from the real issues. Alter is of some interest--not for what he says--but for who's listening to what he says.

Stephen Krashen commented on "Ravitch's "first-class investigative reporting" over at Schools Matter.

WARNING: This post actually contains new information. More and more, I'm learning that many people aren't interested in new information but want the comfort of recycling their old convictions.

Jonathan Alter's fatuous attack on Diane Ravitch provoked a legion of Ravitch fans to jam Twitter in her defense. I let that inform me about Alter's remarks until I read Stephen Krashen's more extended comments, giving important context to the outrage. I follow the work of a lot of people with whom I disagree, but I gave up on Alter some years back. He's just too shallow and ignorant of education to be worth reading. When I spend time with people writing about education issues, I want those people to know something. For example, I follow Rick Hess' work because he is smart and informed. And he's not always wrong, and he often provides provocative food for thought.

That said, I find it very informative to look at who's defending/praising Alter.

These snippets are taken from Twitter Search for Jonathan Alter. Most commments appearing in this Search were strong attacks on Alter. But where you can learn something is by taking a look at those who come to praise him.

  • schoolteaching Classroom Supply
    Don't Believe Critics Education Reform Works Jonathan Alter Bloomberg http://tinyurl.com/3kw22mt

    Everything for Teachers and Classrooms-- On-Line Store, Longview, Texas

  • jfredricsmith Jason Smith
    Very very important column -- Don't Believe Critics, Education Reform Works: Jonathan Alter -- Bloomberg bloom.bg/jsFbAu via @BloombergNow

    Education and health policy/public affairs/comm. Principal @ Widmeyer Communications

  • EDPressSec Justin Hamilton
    @arneduncan: @DianeRavitch in denial & insulting hardworking teachers, principals & students proving her wrong every day me.lt/760ka

    Official twitter account for Department of Education Press Secretary Justin Hamilton http://www.ed.gov

  • evacolen Eva Colen
    Thank you, Alter -- "Don't Believe Critics, Education Reform Works" bloom.bg/jsFbAu via @BloombergNow #edreform #education

    TFA alum & current recruiter. Love for ed equity, social media, nonprofit leadership, food, drink, & more!

  • realFTucker Frank Tucker
    Great article on education. Don't Believe Critics, Education Reform Works: Jonathan Alter -- Bloomberg bloom.bg/jsFbAu via @BloombergNow

    Frank is active in the community with various voter registration organizations and after school tutoring programs for youth.

  • sgermeraad sgermeraad
    RT @jonathanalter My Bloomberg View piece tells @DianeRavitch to stop making educational progress look fraudulent http://bloom.bg/igeCOD

    Ed-vocate & Trojan for life (FIGHT ON!) promoting efforts to improve schools for all students... Opinions are my own, RTs aren't endorsements, etc, etc, etc

  • EdEquality Education Equality
    Jonathan Alter on importance & success of #edreform. http://bloom.bg/msZTWX

    The Education Equality Project (EEP) is committed to closing the education achievement gap that exists for far too many Americans. http://www.edequality.org
    Board of Directors:

  • TNTP New Teacher Project
    .@arneduncan: "@DianeRavitch is in denial & insulting hardworking teachers, principals & students." http://ow.ly/59y5X #edreform

    Board of Directors:

  • jonathanschorr Jonathan Schorr
    Great @JonathanAlter response to @dianeravitch misleading, pessimistic NYT column bloom.bg/jsFbAu

    Jonahan Schorr leads the external relations work at NewSchools Venture Fund

  • Melissa Salmanowitz
    msalmanowitz Melissa Salmanowitz
    Cheers to @jonathanalter for taking on @DianeRavitch with facts & a less "defeatist" attitude http://t.co/OikZSnk via @BloombergNow

    Communications Director -- Education for @edworkforcedems. My tweets do not represent @askGeorge or @edworkforcedems but I support their tweets wholeheartedly

    Press Release, House Education and Labor Committee Sept. 9, 2008
    Melissa Salmanowitz, 26, joins the Committee as Press Secretary. She spent the past year as the Deputy Director of Women's Outreach for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, where she helped lead the team responsible for all communications, outreach and policy development for Women for Hillary program. Prior to the campaign, Salmanowitz worked as a Senior Communications Consultant at M+R Strategic Services, managing day-to-day media outreach and providing strategic client management to leading non-profits and advocacy organizations. Salmanowitz also worked as an Associate in Burson Marsteller's DC based Media practice on behalf of corporate, public affairs, and healthcare clients and awareness campaigns. She previously served as the Deputy Director of Media Relations at Media Matters for America. . . .
    Here you can compare her salary to a teacher salary.

    NOTE to Ms Salmanowtiz: As a US taxpayer, I advise you not to associate the official Twitter account for the House Education and Labor Committee with your personal Twitter account, even with a disclaimer.

  • One thing leads to another. Now take a look at the entities whom the official Twitter account for the House Education and Labor Committee has followed since Jan. 1, 2011. Remember: Among other things, this committee will be deciding about the renewal of NCLB.

    The Committee follows lots of government sites, including:

  • the White House

  • Barack Obama

  • USA.gov

  • US Department of Labor

  • US Department of Education

  • The Democratic Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives

  • the Ways & Means Committee

  • Ranking Member, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

  • U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

  • Ed Markey, described as "a natl leader on energy, environment, and telecommunications; voice for consumer protection"

  • Jared Polis, Colorado 2nd Congressional District

  • Massie Ritsch@ED_Outreach, Official feed of External Affairs & Outreach/US Dept. of Education. Connecting ED to education stakeholders.

  • Jesse Lee, An official WH twitter account

  • Ask George [Miller]

  • PA Congressman Joe Sestak

  • Numbers to Know [from the Office of the House Democratic Leader]

  • South Carolina's Rep. Clyburn, Assistant Democratic Leader, "the number three Democrat in the House of Representatives"

  • Jay Carney (EOP) @PressSec The White House

  • Rep Paul Tonko

  • Rep Carolyn McCarthy

  • Rep Nancy Pelosi

  • U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services

  • Rep Marcia Fudge

  • House Armed Services Democrats

  • White House Open Government Initiative

  • U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs

  • House Oversight Democrats

  • US House Floor

  • Joint Economic Committee Majority Staff

  • Health Care Reform (official House Twitter)

  • Hispanic Caucus

  • Hilda L. Solis, 25th U.S. Secretary of Labor

  • House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

  • House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

  • Congresswoman Mazie Hirono

  • Natalia Rudiak, Councilwoman for Pittsburgh City Council District 4

  • Plus a few non-government personages:

  • Tweet Congress! (Grassroots effort to get Congress tweeting!)

  • Steven Greenhouse, who covers labor issues for the New York Times

  • Mike Elk, labor journalist

  • Howie Klein @ Down with Tyranny

  • Sarah Jaffe@seasonofthebitch (Web ninja/writer @GRITtv. Freelance journalist/critic. Rabblerouser.)

  • Gennady Kolker,Publicity Director @TheNation magazine

  • Ross Wallen, USAction

  • David Waldman, Contributing Editor, Daily Kos and Congress Matters

  • GM Northeast Team: The car lovers of the Northeast PR/Grassroots Team

  • Uber Social
    Ah, yes it's the House of the People.

    Remember that old saw:

    And this is good old Boston,
    The home of the bean and the cod,
    Where the Lowells talk only to Cabots,
    And the Cabots talk only to God.

    We need an update:

    And this is good old House Ed Committee
    The home of politico cronies
    Where the politicos talk only to other politicos
    Which means they talk only to phonies.

    Life is too short to make this scan.

    And yes, the official Twitter account for the House Education and Labor Committee does follow one education site: Huffington Post Education, where, as I write this, you can read about a school official in trouble for impersonating Lady Gaga.

    And George Miller's AskGeorge Tweet site? It follows most of the above--plus:

  • NRDems Nat Resources Dems: Energy & Mineral Resources Subcommittee

  • Us Department of Energy

  • State Department

  • EPA Green Building

  • Rep Lynn Wolsey

  • Rep Charles Rangel

  • Rep Pedro Pierluisi

  • Rep Chris VanHollen

  • Sen Harry Reid

  • Rep Tim Ryan
  • Rep Gabrielle Giffords

  • Rep Jackie Speier

  • Rep Doris Matsui

  • Rep Jim McDermott

  • Rep Chaka Fattah

  • Rep Brad Sherman

  • Sen Barbara Boxer

  • Rep Sanford Bishop Jr, Ranking Member of the Military Construction/VA Appropriations Subcommittee

  • Rep Tammy Baldwin

  • Rep Brian Higgins

  • Rep Louise Slaughter

  • Rep Norm Dicks

  • Rep Joe Courtney

  • Rep John Garamendi

  • OurFuturedotorg: Campaign for America's Future

  • Recovery.gov

  • Environmental Protection Agency

  • FEMA


  • Veterans Health Administration (VHA)

  • Natural Resources Committee Democrats, U.S. House of Representatives

  • Ambassador Rice

  • ExchangesConnect: online community from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), U.S. Department of State. Twitter feed managed by Melissa

  • SEEC: Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition

  • Ray LaHood: The official Twitter page of the US Secretary of Transportation

  • Progressive {sic} Caucus

  • Alliance for Community Trees (ACT)

  • Jane Goodall Inst.

  • HealthCareGov

  • Alec Ross: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Senior Advisor for Innovation

  • Ways and Means Committee

  • American Rights at Work

  • Argonne National Lab

  • Vacaville Reporter

  • Josh Richman, Oakland Tribune and Bay Area News

  • Isaiah J. Poole" poolemedia.net

  • Blumenauer Media

  • Bill Scher: executive editor of LiberalOasis

  • Jeff Bryant, OurFuture.org, Marketing and communications strategists for nonprofits and progressive causes

  • Trucker Desiree: Single Female Trucker exposing Truth about how Student Truckers are Trained on our highways

  • PeaceCorps Recruiter

  • Ari Berman, Political correspondent, The Nation
  • Eddie VanBogaert, West Lafayette Indiana City Council

  • U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services

  • The Kojo Nnamdi Show from WAMU 88.5

  • George Miller,

    Where the hell are the teachers?

    Miller exhibits some small interest in education. He does follow:
  • Citizens School-NC

  • The National Writing Project

  • Jeremy Ly, Grundy County Board Member, District 2, Minooka, Illinois

    Reminder: Although I follow certain people on Twitter in hopes of gaining some insight, for most people Twitter isn't about whom you follow. It's all about who follows you. Five people I follow on Twitter follow George Miller. I figure they'll let me know if he ever says anything worth noticing.

    And I have a question they can pass on to George Miller--if they figure out a way of getting to him:

    George Miller,

    Have you no shame?

    That was, of course, a rhetorical question.

    Shout out to NCTE, IRA, NEA, AFT: How is that "seat at the table" working out for you? Maybe you need a better GPS device--to get directions to the right table.

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