The ‘advertorial’ is, in my opinion, the lowest form of advertising. Perhaps you’ve never heard this word before, but you have surely nearly fallen for this kind of deceit when reading what you think is a newspaper article with a flashy headline before noticing, in small print, the words ‘advertisement.’
Education Week used to be the gold standard in education reporting. I can remember how proud I was in October 1995 when, at just 25 years old, I got my first ‘published’ article in a ‘real’ publication, Education Week’s Teacher Magazine, for a piece I wrote called ‘Natural Born Teacher.’ Over the next six years, I was always so proud whenever I’d get a piece accepted into either Teacher Magazine or Education Week.
As the internet grew and Twitter gained popularity, I joined and of course followed Education Week. Though I’ve found Education Week to be generally slanted toward the Reform side, they are not nearly as bad as something like some of the other sites posing as journalism and they do run some columns by people critical of Waiting For Superman style reform.
Earlier this month I started noticing a lot of tweets from Education Week about the amazing work that TFA is doing.
Here are some examples:
To see the 40 or so like this over the past month, go here.
I found these frequent tweets to be very odd, but it wasn’t until yesterday that the intrepid Katie Osgood noticed the ‘fine print’ on all these tweets.
So those #sponsor #ad hashtags indicate that these tweets are just the modern version of the deceptive ‘advertorial’ seen in newspapers. The difference, though, is that most people do not click on the links to read the entire article and take the headline as ‘news’ from Education Week, a very popular place to get education news.
The idea that Teach For America is actually paying money for these sorts of ads with their taxpayer grants is something I really find offensive. If TFA wants better PR, they need to earn it, not buy it.
Incidentally, the cities that TFA is highlighting in these advertisements, Denver, Washington D.C., and New Orleans, are doing very poorly on the only metric that matters to the Reformers, test scores. Just today, I saw an amusing exchange on twitter where Joe Siedlicki posted how these three cities did on the PARCC ELA exams this year.
Eric Lerum, formerly of Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, but now of the kinder and gentler, though just as dangerous, Jon Schnur’s America Achieves, gave this response:
So these Reformers insist on test score accountability as the sole measure of success and then when the New Orleans RSD bombs a test relative to the rest of the country after they implement every reckless Reform strategy in the book, charterizing the district, school choice gone wild, bringing in TFA to replace their veteran teachers, yet he doesn’t know what to take away from these.
I’d advise him to study Education Week, but he might inadvertently stumble upon an advertorial.