Single-minded and criticism-shy

Gadfly would be the first to admit he's gotten his wings a bit sticky over at Flypaper; the best blogging is provocative, which sometimes provokes angry reactions. Michele Kerr, a recent graduate of the Stanford Teacher Education Program, learned that lesson the hard way. A mid-life career changer, Kerr knew she didn't see eye-to-eye with STEP's social justice bent ("philosophically out of sync with the program," was how she put it), but she figured it was a good opportunity. But that didn't mean she was going to sit by quietly. Indeed, she commented on her philosophical disagreements to a program instructor at a reception for accepted students in spring 2008. And that's when the trouble started. The program first tried to keep Kerr out on "legal grounds," something she discovered when an email, meant for someone else, was mistakenly sent to her. So Kerr got a lawyer and started a blog, "Surviving Stanford," on which she shared her thoughts on a variety of education-related topics, including her disagreements with STEP's progressivist tendencies. Suffice to say, program administers were less than pleased, accusing her of a host of transgressions. They went so far as to threaten Kerr's graduation from the program by deeming her unfit for teaching, though she had good grades and was doing well at her student-teaching stint. Kerr finally did graduate but as Jay Mathews, who narrated Kerr's saga in his Washington Post column, pointed out, "In her struggle with STEP, she exposed serious problems in the way Stanford and, I suspect, other education schools, treat independent thinkers, particularly those who blog." We know nothing more than what Mathews has told us, but we do know an education gadfly when we see one. And there, at least, we can relate.

"They Messed with the Wrong Blogger," by Jay Mathews, Washington Post, July 24, 2009

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