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Just another shill for educational companies?

Let's get this out of the way...

  • I use Apple computers and have an iPhone.
  • GSuite is both my professional and personal email, file storage, calendaring app.
  • This blog resides on the Squarespace hosting service.
  • I like Dropbox, Smugmug, GoodReads, Wikispaces, and Feedly. 
  • In my presentations I often use Padlet, Poll Everwhere, and GoSoapBox.
  • I drive a Honda, eat at Panera, and enjoy Raisin Bran.

I am sure the stock of these business have just soared. 

One of my favorite bloggers addressed the issue of educators promoting commercial products. In The Dilemma of Entrepreneurial Teachers with Brand Names, Larry Cuban questions the ethics of teachers who reached some degree of celebrity status (something oxymoronic about that) who take gifts from education companies and then use and promote those products in their social media exchanges and workshops.

Larry references a New York Times story about Kay Delzers, a North Dakota classroom teacher, who has become a "name brand" educator and who accepts products and lagniappe from companies to use in her classroom and her workshops. In his blog he writes:

Now with the Internet and social media, there is far more evidence of entrepreneurial teachers documented in blogs, Facebook postings, and start-up businesses. From Teachers Pay Teachers to Google Certified Innovators , the notion of teachers being entrepreneurial in a market-driven economy where Silicon Valleys across the U.S. (Northern California, Austin, New York City, Boston) spread a culture of  hustle, workaholism, and money should come as no surprise. Nonetheless, the Kayla Delzers among millions of teachers are the one percenters who wrestle with the dilemma of serving children and becoming a money-making brand name.

So what's an ethical educator to do? You don't need to be a "rock star" educator to know you have an impact on others' purchasing choices whether that be your students, their parents, or your co-workers.

Since now and again, my blog pops up on some "best of" education list, I get requests to promote an educational product - service, software, book, class etc - on the Blue Skunk. I routinely ignore these requests but if the solicitor is persistent, I refer them to the Endorsement Policy right on the blog. It reads, in part:

Product Endorsement Policy for the Blue Skunk and my presentations

  • I will not endorse or mention a product (at least without a heavy-duty disclaimer) which I don't have experience using in our district. This is important. While the product itself might look very cool, it's only through experience that one learns about little things like support, compatibility, bug fixes, situational customizations, and unintended consequences of use.
  • I will not accept any form of remuneration for reviewing or writing about a product. This includes trips, gifts, cash, cars, call girls or dictatorships of small countries. Not that any of these things have actually been offered to me.
  • I don't take paid advertising on my blog or website.
  • I don't accept unsolicited guest blogs from commercial enterprises.
  • I don't wear t-shirts, baseball caps, or underwear with corporate logos. (I do have a hip flask with the ALA logo on it, however.)
  • I do write "blurbs" for books and/or products that I've actually read or used and liked.
  • My recommendations are my personal recommendations - not the school district's.

I suppose there are other guidelines I should set for myself. That readers trust my objectivity is important to me.

Maybe it is time every educator explicitly stated his/her personal endorsement policy. You could agree or disagree with the professionalism that policy, but at least everyone, including your students, would know where you stand.



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Reader Comments (2)

The idea of having an explicit endorsement policy is wise and signals readers what you stand for. Enjoyed the post.

September 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLarry Cuban

Thanks, Larry. I am flattered to read the post.

Enjoy your blog more than any other I read. Thank you for the time and effort you put into this important work.

All the best,


September 11, 2017 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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