Some time this week, this blog passed the 250K mark. A quarter million.
I've been up and running since August of last year, but it took me a couple of months to figure out what I was doing, and not till January of this year did my writer's gland really kick in. So I've done a huge amount of business in a short amount of time.
There are several takeaways from this, I think. Because I don't think the story is that I am an awesome writer or a person with an unusually compelling story to tell. I can slap words together okay on a good day, and in the classroom I am neither God's gift to teaching nor a pedagogical disaster. I think I'm a pretty representative sample of American public educatorhood. Nor am I an outstanding example of of educational bloggery-- given my numbers and my reach, I'm maybe one of the C list bloggers. I haven't met anybody in the movement face to face, haven't spoken at any rallies, haven't been offered a seat at any of those tables, haven't done anything to raise the profile of my brand.
So what that tells me is that there is a powerful need out there for the message. There's a powerful need among teachers and parents and the other people who care about public education, a need to know that what looks crazy and wrong really is crazy and wrong, a collective need to stand next to people looking at some incredible disaster unfolding and to turn to the person next to you and say. "You see that, too, right? I'm not crazy, right?"
There's a powerful need for words. What I hear over and over again is some version of, "I knew something was wrong, but it was wrong in such a fundamentally bizarre way that I couldn't even find the words to explain. My gut just knew something was horribly wrong." Followed closely by, "Thank God it's not just me. I was afraid it was just me." There's a powerful need for clarity and understanding and a sense of connection to other people who share a belief in the promise and importance of public education.
I am always struck by the huge contrast between the Reformsters and the Resistance. On the Reformster side we find almost exclusively people who are making a buck from all this mess. We find glossy sites and paid consultant work and huge efforts (and expense) to push the carefully spun and crafted message out there. On the Resistance side, we find...well, we find a herd of cats. A big unpaid volunteer DIY widespread pay-your-own-expenses herd of cats. If Reformsters were working on the Resistance's collective budget, with the Resistance's expectation of monetary reward in their future, the battle would be over today, because they would have about three people left fighting for their cause.
My readership is not about me. It's about a cause that matters. It's about a value for our culture that is important, in which we believe, not because we're paid to believe, but because it really matters. Blogging is funny-- you can't get people to read you except by writing a message that resonates, that speaks to an audience.
So I'm grateful that an audience has found me, and that what I'm saying has some meaning and value to them. I am so thoroughly heartened to discover such a nationwide web of people who care so deeply about public education, an institution that I believe is one of the most important and powerful to ever step forth on the stage of human history.
I'm grateful to Diane Ravitch and the Bad Ass Teachers, both of whom helped an audience find me, and I am grateful to the literally hundreds of other bloggers who keep this fight going, and I am grateful to the fans of this space who have been such big boosters of my writing. It is an amazing world in which people with no resources by a computer and their own spare time can sit down and reach out to others, where a network of people can share their concerns and information and understanding and strength across the miles.
Those of us who love public education are many, and we're committed, and we're connected, and we're not going away, and we're not giving up, and we're not alone, and we're not dependent on the kindness of corporate sponsors. And if a C list blogger can gather a quarter-million reads in a little over six months, let that be a sign of just how huge we are in number. The Reformsters had better check their resources, because they are in for a long hard fight.