After coaching my Cities Suburbs & Schools seminar on how to write op-ed essays, I decided it was time again for me to write and submit my own. An opportunity arose when the Connecticut Department of Education released its widely publicized School Performance Index website, which allowed me to draw comparisons and lessons learned from the more parent-friendly SmartChoices site that students, colleagues, and I developed at Trinity. Yesterday my commentary, “Commissioner, Let’s Build a Better School-Rating System,” ran on the Connecticut Mirror website, my preferred forum because they allowed me to add images and links to what is essentially a visual argument on the web. Several colleagues kindly extended readership via social media, and I emailed it directly to the Commissioner’s office. Will anyone respond? Stay tuned.
What lessons did I learn from my own assignment? First, it took me longer than expected, at least five humbling hours, to write and revise this one-thousand-word essay. Second, although I submitted my piece in a timely manner (the Hartford Courant ran a front-page story on Tuesday Dec 11th, and I sent in my essay on Thursday, Dec 13th), external events (the Newtown tragedy) delayed its publication. Finally, if I had asked someone else to proofread my essay, as I always instruct my students to do, then perhaps I would have spelled Commissioner Stefan Pryor’s first name correctly.