gothamschools

New York

Introducing myself and Chalkbeat's effort to serve you better

New York

Civility First: A quest to keep our comments section kind

Our comments section is about to get a little bit nicer. Our comments section has its moments of glory, instances of brave citizens discoursing civilly despite a national education debate dominated by divisive misconceptions. But too often, it's ugly down there. Too often, comments include personal attacks and deliberate deceptions. And so we embark on a niceness campaign. Down the road, we are open to making more major changes, such as asking commenters to log in with a registered verified identity or creating a community policing system where other commenters can vote comments up or down a la Gawker. Another idea is to change the structure so you can respond right underneath other readers' postings and flag comments you find inappropriate. We hope you will share more ideas. For now, we have drafted a recommended list of principles to govern our most basic (and, at present, only) moderation decision: Do we allow a comment to be published, or do we delete it? (Right now, given our editorial capacity, every comment that the Wordpress computers don't flag as possible spam is published immediately by default. For more on the spam catchers, see #4 below.) Most of these principles we already follow in an ad hoc way, but we want to codify them. The list is below. Please share your feedback. Once we've got something we all like — or at least, most of us like — we'll publish it permanently on the site. Draft GothamSchools Community Policy We encourage vigorous debate and welcome constructive criticism of our coverage. However, we do reserve the right to moderate these discussions and occasionally will delete comments that violate our community policy. 1. No obscenity, vulgarity, profanity, racism or sexism. If you think something might cross the line, it probably does. Disagreement with people's arguments is fine, but personal attacks — including on other commenters and GothamSchools writers and editors — will not be tolerated. We tend to agree with Jon Stewart that Nazi analogies are rarely appropriate. We reserve the right to judge what crosses the line.
New York

What can China and Vietnam learn from GothamSchools?

Educators from across East Asia posed with GothamSchools advisory board member Genevieve Wachtell and editor Elizabeth Green Friday. "Any questions?" I asked last Friday, staring at a room full of educators who'd just watched my standard 15-minute meet-GothamSchools presentation. A hand went up. "What," the woman asked slowly, "is the main function of your organization?" I didn't think this woman was asking the kind of existential question that sometimes keeps me up at night.* She just wanted the main function. What was going on here? The person who'd brought the room full of educators offered me an explanation, delicately describing GothamSchools' mission of offering independent news coverage of public education as "something of a surprise" to the group. After all, the educators were all senior officials and professors from East Asia — countries including China, Thailand, the Philippines, Fiji, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Singapore. They'd come to GothamSchools as part of a visitor program organized by the U.S. State Department. Their tour, which began January 17 and will go through February, focuses on what the state department describes as "innovations in primary and secondary education." Our guests, the official explained to me, had struggled to understand us from the moment they stepped out of their tour bus and into our building's elevator. "Is this part of the state or the federal government?" one person asked him. They had trouble conceiving of how or why a non-governmental organization would take any interest in public schools, he said. Understanding that journalists could also be independent was even more of a stretch for many.
New York

Reader survey on the value GothamSchools adds and subtracts

An excerpt from our report summarizing the results of our reader survey. Most of you, dear readers, don't fall neatly into either the Joel Klein or the Diane Ravitch camps on education, and even more of you don't find GothamSchools ideological. (Phew! Not being ideological is our goal.) These are among the findings of our first-ever nonscientific reader survey. You can read our full breakdown in this report. Our aim is to use the survey findings as fuel for self-improvement. For instance, there seems to be something going on with the comments section. On one hand, almost 30 percent of responders described the comments section as "very useful," and a strong 41 percent of respondents reported commenting "every so often." Among the silent readers, a few reported keeping quiet despite using the comments to shape an opinion. "I visit Gotham to learn from others," one wrote. But most of the responders who didn't comment said it was because of the tone of the comments that are posted. These people peppered their feedback with words like "vitriol" and "offensive." "I love Gotham Schools but the commenters are nasty!" one wrote. "I'd never want to enter into that fray!" A few more responses along those lines: I find the comments are generally people with overly opinionated, yet unsubstantiated views that they want desperately to share but have nobody willing to listen. I stopped. The comment section has deteriorated from thoughtful commentary to an arena of hysterics, mudslinging, and proselytizing. It degraded from NYT comments to Daily News comments. Not a good forum for productive conversation--talking at people, not with them