Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Who Do The Leaders Follow (Twitter Edition)

Warning: If you are completely unimpressed and disinterested when it comes to Twitter, this post is probably not for you.

It was an offhand Tweet that I read, but it got me thinking and checking, and sure enough-- the current Secretary of Education does not follow a single working teacher. Or even, really, a person in education. 

Now yes--before we dig into this, I totally get that social media accounts are most likely run by lowly interns. Not only that, but given what we've seen in previous administrations, it's probably just as well that people in office aren't using social media personally because apparently that's a bad way to run things. 

Still, let's look.

@SecCardona only follows 39 accounts (38 technically, because one of the accounts he follows is his old civilian account--@teachcardona). They are virtually all work-related fellow bureaucrats and administration officials--other cabinet secretaries, etc--plus things like the CDC and WHO, and a couple of news-ish shows (GMA and New Day). 

And while he's racked up 1,547 tweets since February, they mostly read like tweet versions of press releases, and he seems to never actually reply to anything posted by someone else. Which, given the folks he follows, is unsurprising.

So if he's got his finger on the pulse of working educators, it's not through Twitter (which, I hasten to add, is not an indefensible stance because Twitter's overall pulse is kind of thready and bitter). Our secretary of education does not follow any actual teachers.

While I was there, I figured why not check some others.

@usedgov (the Department of Education) is also very businesslike, mostly following other departments, government-related organizations, with a few curves thrown in. The 154 follows include @EdWeekTeacher, @WeAreTeachers, @TeachForAmerica, @TeachtoLead and @rweingarten.

@FLOTUS is a pretty quiet account that follows 5 and has 278 tweets. @DrBiden has been on Twitter since January 2017 and only has 960 tweets. She follows 22 in an odd assortment that includes Cher, Taye Diggs and Tara Westover.

@JoeBiden follows 48 accounts, including some archived one. Mostly political except for Lady Gaga and Chrissy Tiegen. 

AFT president @rweingarten follows almost 4,000 people--it's a very eclectic group, and I don't know how anyone manages to follow more than a few hundred people, but clearly some folks manage. Weingarten has usually maintained a pretty lively Twitter presence. NEA president @BeckyPringle is less plugged in with 631 follows and 2,178 tweets since 2009; it's a small but eclectic group. Both presidents follow an assortment of activists, leaders, and regular teachers.

This is a small data point and not particularly deeply significant (here at the Institute it is not our goal to shake the earth every single day). The education corners of Twitter have their own sets of issues, but it is an easy place to find out what actual teachers are actually saying. That only works if you (or your interns) are there. 

1 comment:

  1. As a person who has no social media accounts but does read some Twitter posts (those I can see without having an account), your observation begs the question:
    Is Twitter too dangerous for these leaders to commit to comments they might make to general public (using social media)?
    Isn't it just safer to post announcements and use it as a bulletin board?
    If the goal of Twitter is to reduce "power distance" (term not invented by me), then you can see that it is not being used for that purpose.
    Probably these people want to remain inaccessible and unflappable.
    They dutifully have an account but it is only a shop window.
    That's fine, isn't it?
    Engaging with John Q. Public takes us places we usually don't want to go.