I call shenanigans. As I mentioned in the E4E pieces in GS last week, I and other bloggers have tried, a number of times, to RSVP to E4E events. While I can't speak for everyone, my own intentions were more or less pure. I thought I would hear what they and their invited speakers have to say, meet some fellow teachers, and have a free drink. Seemed simple enough. But every time I have tried to RSVP to an E4E event, the "loyalty oath" is included in the online form, and it cannot be bypassed. I have yet to hear about the E4E event that is open to the non-oath-signing public.
John Galvin, the administrator who authored the open letter, noted, "If you want to sponsor events that are closed to the public and only open to your members, that is your right. However, if you want to engage the public in debate and to test your ideas to the widest audience possible, then it makes no sense. It raises questions about the motives of your group and the commitment of your group to engage in honest debate with those that agree and disagree with you." And he's right. As teachers, we encourage our students to consider and address counterclaims to their positions in their writing; we facilitate open, but respectful, debate in our classrooms. While some of the criticism directed at E4E has turned ugly and personal, most of it, certainly from myself and NYC Educator, has, in my opinion, been direct and fair. It is not a savage ad hominem takedown to want to know, for example, where a group's funding is coming from, especially the funding that has allowed this nascent "grassroots" group to move into prime office space in midtown Manhattan.
So I'll continue to wait for that mythical "open" E4E event. And if you can't contain your excitement and REALLY want to go in the meantime, you can sign the non-loyalty oath on Facebook before you go to keep your conscience clear.