Why I’m Saying Farewell to EduShyster

It’s time for me to wave goodbye to the man with the outstretched hand…

Since I started this blog back in 2012, I’ve gotten occasional complaints that the name EduShyster is anti-semitic. When one of these arrived last week, I started to compose what has become my standard response: that whole books have been written on this topic, and that historians have traced the etymology of the word back to its very first appearance in 1843, in a New York newspaper crusading against political and legal corruption. And then I stopped. As any English teacher worth her salt can explain, meaning and context go hand in hand. Our current context is that anti-semitism has roared back with a vengeance and has taken up residence in the highest office in the land. Even the slightest possibility that I might be lumped in with that kind of hate is too much. Now is the time to speak up against all kinds of intolerance, and so I’m taking this opportunity to wish EduShyster farewell.

If you’ve followed the evolution of my blog, you know that I started out as an anonymous commentator, taking aim at all things education *rephorm.* Snark was my weapon, along with wine by the boxful—a sort of metaphor for the volume of intoxicants necessitated by the edupreneurial schemes and scams that I spent my days untangling. Along the way, the blog morphed into something more serious. There was so much I didn’t understand, and so I sought out people who knew things and used my blog as a way to make complex ideas more accessible. I also discovered that my curious nature—OK, nosy—translated into a reporting skill I didn’t know I had. I’ve now raised money from readers and traveled to Chicago, New Orleans and Michigan, talking to anyone who will talk to me, and producing actual journalism. Who knew??? Last year I launched a story-driven podcast series called Have You Heard that sought to *disrupt* the debate over the future of public education by passing the mic to parents and students whose voices are too often missing from the conversation.

Now it’s time for another change. As of 2/08/2017, the blog formerly known as EduShyster is the Have You Heard blog. Rolls off the tongue, right? While the man with the hand will still be making occasional appearances, this next iteration of my writing and podcasting will be unmistakably mine. I’ll be doing more long reported pieces, like this one, this one, this one, and this one. At the top of my list is a skeptical look at the latest edu-frenzy to sweep across Massachusetts: the empowerment zone. And believe it or not, after devoting some 10,000 words to our new Secretary of Education, I still have more to add—like what was really behind the shade that Eli Broad threw at Betsy DeVos. Season 2.0 of the Have You Heard podcast will sound different too. I’ve joined forces with Jack Schneider, who you may know on Twitter as @edu_historian. Our biweekly talk show on education in the time of Trump starts this week. (Note: you can subscribe on iTunes—just search for Have You Heard under news and politics).

Before I go there is one thing I could really use your help with. Now that I’m officially consigning @EduShyster to the dustbin of history, I need a new Twitter handle. If you have a suggestion send it to jenniferberkshire@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got some work to do…

Jennifer

 

The Education of EduShyster (a Comedy)

Can you believe I’ve been at this for three years???

three candlesNote: to mark the third anniversary of my blog, I’m sharing a chapter that I wrote for a book called Resisting Reform: Reclaiming Public Education Through Grassroots Activism. I recount my unlikely journey into the world of edu-blogging and reveal at long last what (or rather who) prompted me to come out as my self…

I can tell you exactly when Edushyster.com came into being. It was the summer of 2012 and I was deep in conversation with my husband. Well, maybe conversation isn’t quite the right word as it implies some sort of a back-and-forth. This was more of a one-way affair—a diatribe to be precise, and I was the one doing the dia-tribing. As he liked to point out, I’d been doing a lot of this lately. Our early morning newspaper reading sessions had become a launching pad for my many strong opinions. Continue reading →

Happy Birthday, Mercedes

In which I sit down with wonder-blogger Mercedes Schneider to talk about her life, her blog and a whole lot more…

On a recent trip to Louisiana I got to spend some time with wonder-blogger Mercedes Schneider, whose blog on education reform turned one year old this week. (If you don’t know it, you should). In my interview with her, Mercedes opens up about her personal story, including the correct pronunciation of her name (hint: it’s not Mercedes like the car…), how she got so smart, and what motivated her to become a powerful (and prolific) voice against the corporate education reform movement. And don’t miss the part where I ask her what she’d really like to say to AFT President Randi Weingarten! 

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