Making This Site So Popular It Gets Banned

A blogsite about Winona schools has gotten so popular -- and so vicious -- that the district has banned accessing it from school computers. 

It's sick, I know -- but that's what I want to happen to this site, too. 

Not necessarily the ban -- though that would be nice -- and not necessarily personal attacks and tiresome rants I'd have to delete, but lots of disgruntled or merely questioning CPS educators sharing their complaints and concerns and shining a light on what's good and not so good about their schools. 

Come on, CPS teachers and admins -- let's hear from you.  I know you've got lots to say.  This is your chance. 

r We all know that there are lots of blogsites out there where individual teachers sound off about their experiences in the classroom -- and of course countless sites where students and others write about their lives. 

But until now I hadn't heard about sites where teachers' anonymous postings about their school and district leadership had gotten so popular and so vicious that they district decided it had to ban the site from its computers. 

Which brings me to my question:  What's it gonna take for CPS teachers and admins to realize that they can come here, complain to their hearts' content as anonymously as they want, and -- it's my greatest dream -- do so to the extent that CPS bans using the site from school. 

This is what's happened in Winona, where teachers' blog postings (most of them anonymous) got so intense that administrators banned the site from their computers.  The newspaper article about it is posted below.  The site:  http://winonablog.typepad.com/

Some carry vitriol against Dist. 861 into blogoshpere

by Cynthya Porter

With the kind of vitriol that is unprecedented even in this school district, teachers and others who sit in criticism of district leaders have started a web-blog so scathing that officials are telling staff to look at it on their own time, not the districts.
The blog, where posters can anonymously say anything, is filled with contempt for District 861 Superintendent Paul Durand and members of the school board that is so vicious some are calling it libelous.
Bloggers, most of whom direct much of their ire at Durand,  accuse officials of secret dealings, lying, scheming, and generally mismanaging the district.
The main issues drawing criticism appear to be the administrative relocation to the high school, the reassigning of Kurt Kiekbusch, and hatred for the International Baccalaureate Program.
But the real contempt behind each of those items appears targeted for Durand, who some posters openly admit they are trying to get removed from the district.
The anonymous administrator for the blog claimed that it had been viewed 600 times on a single day, with its entire life span only a week old.
After the first few days, dissenting posts began to appear that questioned the motives of the original bloggers, who claimed the site was set up to have a place where everyone could have a free flowing discussion on the issues facing the Winona Area Public Schools.
But critics called it a faceless attack rather than a discussion after bloggers suggested that, among other things, Durand made secret deals with board members to get hired, carrying out a personal vendetta for Sue Brown and a personal favor for Natalie Siderius in exchange for their votes.
Durand said Friday that the IP address for the blog was added to the list of blocked IP addresses through the districts technology department, and that the site can no longer be viewed from computers using the districts network.
Bloggers cried infringement on their free speech when those using terminals at the high school and other district buildings found they could no longer access the blog.
But Durand said it is nothing of the sort, as would-be bloggers and lurkers can access the blog all they want on their own equipment on their own time.
That was not a productive use of employee time, Durand said of the blog. What is the purpose of it? How is that for the betterment of children and betterment of the school district?
Durand said not only had some bloggers crossed into dangerous territory discussing potentially confidential employee information, but some are actively inciting chaos and insubordination using district equipment on the districts time clock. The blog? I dont think thats a good use of our districts technology, Durand said. Were paying these people to work, not talk on the internet. They can do that at home on their own time.
Although there is no public data about the number of posters to the blog, a few bloggers have specifically indicated that they are parents and not staff people in the district.
As of Friday, their were only nine subjects and a total of 62 comments posted on the blog, although some posters indicated that they had posted more than one time.
Since the day the IP address for the blog was banned in district buildings, no new topics have been posted.
A handful of comments were added to the existing comments, however, several of them encouraging bloggers to unmask themselves and engage in an open discussion about real issues, not rumors and accusations about where Durand lives or other personal attacks.
The administrator or other posters to the blog could not be contacted for this story due to the anonymous nature of the site, which is located at http://winonablog.typepad.com.

Filed under: The World Outside CPS

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