All A-Twitter about Education

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Improving our schools in 140 characters or less


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Fall 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 4

Once upon a time, the education “war of ideas” was fought on the battleground of the nation’s op-ed pages. Then came blogs. But that was so two years ago (see “Linky Love, Snark Attacks, and Fierce Debates about Teacher Quality?what next, Winter 2009.) Who has time for 400-word missives anymore? If you’ve got a point to make, tweet it!

If this sounds alien to you, clearly you haven’t signed up for Twitter. This five-year-old phenomenon allows individuals to dash off short comments to their friends, families, professional colleagues, and whoever else might be interested in their stream of consciousness. The technology has already been credited with bringing down oppressive regimes and creating whole new ways of reporting breaking news. It’s a truly open marketplace of ideas, with no editors, gatekeepers, or quality control. So what does it mean for the education debate?

The first thing to understand about Twitter is that most of its messages amount to, “Hey, check this out,” followed by a link to a newspaper article or blog post. It’s a handy device for telling the world (or at least the people in your own world) about news or columns that you find compelling. It’s also a form of self-promotion; quite a few tweets announce posts the tweeter herself has written.

But in the hands of a gifted provocateur, Twitter can be so much more. Take scholar-turned-reform-apostate Diave Ravitch, who according to is the most influential tweeter in the education policy space (see sidebar). As Alexander Russo, a freelance writer and blogger, remarked sardonically, “a 72-year-old grandmother has won the Internet.” She’s done it not only by linking to columns and articles she agrees with, but by offering bumper sticker–style statements that tend to set the web aflame. For instance, “Accountability is only for teachers and principals, not for students, families, elected officials, district leadership.” Or: “Last places to go to find out how to ‘reform’ schools: Congress/State Legislature/US Dept of Education.”

About Klout Scores

A Klout score is the measurement of someone’s overall online influence. The scores range from 1 to 100, with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence. Klout uses more than 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure True Reach, Amplification Probability,
and Network Score.

True Reach is the size of someone’s engaged audience. Amplification Score is the likelihood that someone’s messages will generate actions (retweets, @messages, likes, and comments). Network Score indicates how influential someone’s engaged audience is. The Klout score is highly correlated to clicks, comments, and retweets.

Diane Ravitch’s Klout score of 73 makes her the most influential tweeter in education, and she’s on par or close to it with other opinion leaders, including columnists Paul Krugman (@nytimeskrugman) at 73 and Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) at 76. Pop star Justin Bieber is the only individual with a perfect Klout score of 100.


Want to follow the top tweeters in education?
Twitter lists made up of the Top 25 Education Policy/Media Tweeters and the
Top 25 Education Tweeters may be found at the Education Next Twitter page.

This might not exactly be H. L. Mencken, but it surely provides raw emotional relief for educators and others who feel besieged by the modern-day reform movement. They “retweet” Ravitch’s rants and, thanks to the multiplication effects of networks, soon tens of thousands of people receive them. In fact, Ravitch’s tweets are so influential that an anonymous someone has created the Twitter handle “@NOTDianeRavitch” to argue the positions held by the education historian before she changed her mind on most education policy issues.
Not that reformers don’t have their own Twitter heroes. Former District of Columbia schools chancellor Michelle Rhee is within striking distance of Ravitch’s influence and serves up a steady diet of can-do reform truisms. Tom Vander Ark, an entrepreneur formerly of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, offers an optimistic take on the burgeoning field of online learning. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan promotes his administration’s policies via @arneduncan. And @EdTrust offers its patented progressive take on education and social justice.

It’s hard to know whether all this tweeting adds up to anything significant. Of course, much the same was once said of blogs; now it’s well-accepted that a well-written blog post can be just as influential as a newspaper op-ed. Twitter offers a nonstop stream of views, ideas, opinions, and emotions; get yourself in the flow or be left behind.

The top tweeters for 2013 can be found here and the top tweeters for 2012 can be found here.

Comment on this article
  • Nancy Flanagan says:

    You failed to note that the Save Our Schools March has a Klout score of 60. That’s right up there with Arne Duncan.

    As for less-than-comprehensive “bumper sticker” logic about education policy, that’s a charge you can lob (or tweet) at both sides of the debate– the old “reformers” or the new “real reformers” who are based in classrooms and schools, rather than non-profits, publishing houses and the US Dept of Ed.

  • Cedar Riener says:

    The real story here is that Ravitch is not some sort of lone prophet, leading on twittering masses. If you look at the SOS March, Leonie Haimson, Mike Klonsky, Alfie Kohn, as well as most of the educator tweeters, they are influential, have many followers, and are skeptical of current ed reform. The ed reformers like to say it is them against Ravitch, but these charts show it most certainly is not.

  • Cedar Riener says:

    You also missed @RachelAnneLevy of AllThingsEducation, at a Klout of 56.
    I somehow think you probably missed quite a few.

  • Jen Marten says:

    Diane Ravitch just gives a voice to teachers that has long been ignored by so-called reformers. Her tweets and retweets make me research issues more deeply because she strikes a chord. She provides a voice for teachers by retweeting what they share. It’s not ‘raw emotional relief’, it is a place to find like-minded teachers who are tired of reforms created by non-educators who look at our children as products not individuals.

  • Carrie Pillsbury says:

    This is so valuable to me as our nonprofit organization dives into Twitter. So much to learn and so many interesting people! We find that our teachers are less receptive to Twitter, so I’ll pass this along to them. And I’ll begin following those on your list. Thanks.

  • Rita Solnet says:

    Are you sure the title of this article doesn’t contain a typo?
    Was it supposed to read: “All’s A-Bitter in Education?”

    A Klout score now? What other inane measurements can we focus on while public education is being systematically dismantled?

    No– I’m not sour grapes over this list which I suspect those who view data as their north star might speculate. I just checked my Klout score! (a parent-business woman). I’m on par with Sec’y Duncan. Does that make sense to anyone? It’s silly. Let’s get back to improving the quality of public education for our kids. Please?

  • […] Mike Petrilli has just published a list of the most popular twitterers (tweeters?) on Twitter (see All A-Twitter about Education). He uses the ranking system called Klout to make his […]

  • Bob Calder says:

    Network analysis isn’t just looking at totals. The high number of followers but lower impact of some people may indicate an echo chamber effect in a poorly linked-out community. Thanks for providing an interesting view.

  • Jose Vilson says:

    Oh, and one more person:

    TheJLV: 68

  • David Wees says:

    Hrmmm. Is this another US list of educators pretending to be talking about all educators?


  • James Woods says:

    Is it not a sign of the apocalypse that Michelle Rhee is #5 on the list? She is not the Superman that people should be waiting for, or following. Try Alfie Kohn, Will Richardson or for good, practical ideas about education, Steve Anderson or Steve Dembo.

  • Pam Holcomb says:

    You missed 8amber8. She is entertaining, educational, & tech savvy. Also, you lists are not phone clickable. You missed a grand opportunity for readers to instantly click & follow.

    Thanks for the lists. Maybe I’ll remember to revisit this link next time I’m behind a computer instead of on my ‘convenient’ handheld device aka cell phone. In my defense, it’s summer!

  • Rose Mayers says:

    “Hrmmm. Is this another US list of educators pretending to be talking about all educators?”

    What… you mean that there are educators on twitter who are based outside the US? Gee, I’d never really considered that one. Awesome insight, dude!

    Actually if I’m reading the small print correctly, it seems to be a list of the top 25 K-12 educators on twitter ranked by klout, based on the rather small sample of edupeople that education next and Michael Petrelli are following.

    One or two good names on there I don’t dispute, but a list of the top 25 tweeters in education? Nope – I don’t think so.

  • Paula White says:

    Are these Klout scores from YOUR follows? In just a quick look at people I follow that I couldn’t believe weren’t on this list, you missed some MAJOR players in my mind–and also according to Klout. You missed, for example, Angela Maiers, Dean Shareski, Joyce Valenza, and Chris Lehmann, just to name a few who do indeed have higher Klout scores than many on your list.

    You should put a disclaimer about how your list was made.

  • Marcie T. Hull says:

    tweeting about care, inquiry, leaning, & knowledge, far better but in the scope of education – @chrislehmann, @mrchase, @dlaufenberg, @smartinez, @garystager, @djakes and @shareski

  • Jon Becker says:

    Classic/typical work by so-called “ed reform” folks:

    1. touting a “measurement” they don’t understand
    2. ranking/sorting
    3. selection bias

    Sound familiar? Whatever. No point in going on here…

  • says:

    I’ve just blogged my thoughts on this. I’m not sour grapes, either, (because I’m @coolcatteacher with a klout of 75) but I think that you have to keep this in perspective.

    Klout and influence are NOT the same thing. One has to consider offline influence as well as that which extends far beyond Twitter. Twitter is an influential tool but it is not the end all be all. Angela Maiers has over 20K followers and 71 Klout – Richard Byrne is also missing.

    I may have a lot of followers and I hope I’m helpful to them – but I would not pretend to think that my influence matches that of many of those on this list. Klout is a measure of engagement and influence over your community on Twitter but there is much more than Twitter!

  • David Deubelbeiss says:

    The tide moves the earth yet no one hears it or knows it….

    Good education is happening despite all the noise.


  • […] a little bird tweets me that there is some sort of list out and about that has my name on it. […]

  • Bob Calder says:

    If we are concerned with making changes in *actual* education, perhaps we should be looking at people that engage in examination and evaluation of research. Most of the folks on the list are engaged in political discussion that will certainly shape education policy. The research they cite is often published without peer review. As we know, education policy is seldom actually good for students.

    I’m not going to mention any names, but I can tell you that FEW of them are in think tanks and NONE are in general purpose conservative doubt manufacturing factories.

    Twitter is a reflection, and Klout is a reflection of a reflection.

  • Leslie Cook says:

    Why is there an ever persistent need for rank? Klout scores, particularly when used like this, are nothing short of class ranking systems. I second Jon Becker’s sentiments.
    Klout is a corporation selling us a measurement of our participation. For those without a massive following, it makes Twitter into a behaviorist, externally motivated driven tool. Fine. I just still want to be able to share information with other educators without worrying whether or not I’m popular or smart enough.

  • Shari says:

    I find Twitter more and more overwhelming by the day. So many people to follow, so little time.

    My personal take, from someone fairly new to Twitter, is that there’s too much following and not enough leading. Thank you for pointing out those who, by appearances, may be more of the leaders. If every retweet of their words corresponded to real action, we could solve all of the world’s problems.

  • Quora says:

    Klout Scores Are Hilarious…

    Let’s get straight to the point: This is funny. Klout scores should not make people in an uproar over who is left off lists, and we definitely should not be debating the validity of such a service to determine one’s influence…or for lack of a better wo…

  • Stephen Krashen says:

    These bogus contests are a great way to divert attention for the real issues and artificially create losers, unless, of course, I am a winner.

    I think you guys decided in advance which Klouts to look at, which is why you missed a lot of people, including moi.

  • Brian W says:

    @Leslie Cook: Well stated and my thoughts exactly. Big deal with Klout. It disappears tomorrow and this is all meaningless. Have fun on Twitter, put in your $.02 every so often, get some new ideas, resources, etc. and engage with your following. Sure you can follow the educators with the most followers, most tweets, or highest Klout, but if what they are talking about doesn’t interest or relate to your work, feel free to unfollow them. Just because you are in education does not mean you *have* to follow these folks. Find educators and organizations that matter to YOU and what you hope to get out of Twitter. If you are only sharing and getting info from 10 educators, that’s ok. You may never want to grow your network any bigger than that. That’s fine. Don’t let Klout, high follower counts, and other ‘measurable’ factors determine your Twitter activity.

  • Rebekah says:

    Klout or no Klout, I found this article very helpful in reaching other educators who may be interested in networking and sharing valuable info.

    I’ve added each tweeter to my Following list, and hope they will welcome the connection with the Northeast STEM Network, no matter where they are in the country. (Find us @neSTEMnet)

  • Kenneth Bernstein says:

    Don’t know if they would pick me up. As it is, probably just below the cutoff since my KLOUT is 53. But then I use different names for twitter (teacherken) and Facebook (Kenneth Bernstein) and besides, a lot of what I post or write about is not about education. Still, I have over 2,000 Twitter followers and over 1,000 Facebook friends. Not bad for a high school teacher. And I am another in the same camp as Diane, and Leonie, and Rachel Ann, and Michael K, etc. And I am also, with Nancy Flanagan, on the executive committee of the Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action.

  • Shannon says:

    I do not comment much on our plight as educators, but I do offer free, Internet-based, practical solutions for teachers! @newteacherhelp


  • TFT says:

    I have a Klout score of 61, I just found out.

    Not a good or complete list, it seems.


  • Jon says:

    I should offer a word on Twitter etiquette, or, namely, the complete lack of etiquette on the part of education’s Twitter revolutionary, @DianeRavitch . For anyone thinking of jumping into the Twitter world to tweet or retweet all those thoughts and links that you find interesting, please refrain from using Twitter like it was your own personal chatroom. You don’t need to respond to every person who mentions you (or try a Direct Message). You also don’t need to try to personally keep the Twitterverse full of new information; there are hundreds of millions of tweets every minute, so there’s no need for you to tweet more than once every 20 minutes or so.

    I already follow most of the people on the above list, with the exception of Dr. Ravitch, not necessarily because I disagree with her, but because when I did follow her there wasn’t room on my Twitter feed for anyone else — and much of it was wasted on chatroom-style comments that didn’t relate to me.

  • […] good friend Brent reminded me that Diane Ravitch tweeted the notorious article by Michael Petrilli comparing Klout scores of some of the biggest names in the online education world. It has the […]

  • teachermrw says:

    Co-signing @ Shari and @Stephen Krashen. Your comments are on the money.

    BTW: I am no less influential as an educator, and, I don’t give a flying hamburger about Klout scores. Let’s put and keep our hands on the right things, educators.

  • […] EducationNext article, All A-Twitter About Education, talks about the impact that Twitter is having on the education reform debate and analyzes the […]

  • […] Mike Petrilli published a list of the most popular twitterers (tweeters?) on Twitter (see All A-Twitter about Education). He used the ranking system called Klout to make his determination. He also received a lot of […]

  • […] more do you need to know?   In his article, “All A-Twitter about Education,”  Mike Petrilli shares a little about the what and how of Twitter, but he saves the best […]

  • […] many other educators on Twitter, I scanned the Education Next  list of the “Top 25 Educator Tweeters” to see if they’d picked my personal favorites.  There were names I knew, some […]

  • Chris Mahnke says:

    Would that Klout translated into clout. Weird collection of “known” educators…could be fun following some of em through the education woods…but Alfie Kohn? Really??? He’s so 1990’s

  • Jesse Turner says:

    Keeping tally of tweets does not discount children are more than test scores, and that the line in the sand you missed. A decade land a nearly trillion dollars spent on NCLB/RTTT policies The U.S. Department is still leaving millions of children behind, and urban school choice zones more segregated than ever. With every twitter American urban schools are becoming the new projects. Perhaps more important than the numbers is who views testing as reform as the answer to poverty, and those that see testing as being a cure worst than the cure. The RTTT policy (cure) every billionaire, and for profit school venture loves to love. A policy that by it’s own data is leaving nearly 80% of America schools as failing. Of course state can always get a Secretary Arne Duncan’s bondage waiver, and pick up tens of millions as they pass that RTTT Go sign. You remember the policy you help along at the DOE until you discovered it was working. You remember you left that NCLB lapel behind in 2007. Praise the lord you found new religion in the Common Core you ran to support in Indiana. Sounds like another policy scam cure for poverty using that old carrots and sticks approach similar to NCLB to me.
    How about a genuine federal commitment to real desegregation? Skip the RTTT wavers, the CCSS, the high stakes testing, and fail states for failing to desegregate their public schools. Rather than U.S. DOE counting wavers they might reward communities for desegregation of their schools. Doesn’t require testing, has an already built standard with Brown V. Board of Topeka all it requires is the counting already existing data.
    Don’t forget to keeping counting tweets, and thinking with those think tank gigs? Perhaps that what wrong with education reform these days is the counting of tax dollars going not to children, but to adults not in classrooms.
    Like my Jose Vilson I’ll be teaching, working with children, parents, and teachers. Taking a few weekend trips. Going to the Selma Jubilee Educational Summit again this February, occupying at DOE 2.0 in April, and once again walking to DC this summer. Desegregation is still the law of the land that most states are out of compliance with.
    Still Marching,
    Jesse The Walking Man Turner

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