Friday, June 6, 2014
So ISTE and I don't have a great relationship. It's the only conference that's ever rejected me multiple times. The more I learn about ISTE the more I realize that ISTE isn't an education conference. Instead, it's a technology expo targeting education. It's about sales. And that's never been more evident than after Audrey Waters' and Ariel Norling documented the ongoing problems with ISTE's responses to women in ed tech.
The problem here is that ISTE isn't really about teachers. Although only three of the ten Board of Directors are from ed tech companies, five of the six Governance Leadership Committee slots are held by corporate representatives. In other words, the people who run the show, aren't the people that the organization allegedly serves. The other organizations that I belong to and have belonged to in the past, don't operate this way. Book publishers and testing agencies don't run the Organization of American Historians. Coal companies don't run the American Society for Environmental History. ISTE's conference fees are out of line with other academic conferences. It's almost $100 more than American Historical Association's conference for members, $150 more for non-members. And they don't offer scholarships for under-represented areas like reservation schools or teachers from poor urban districts.
So what to do.
Audrew Watters plans " as a speaker -- to say that [she] will not speak at events that do not have an anti-harassment policy as part of their Code of Conduct."
That's not strong enough. ISTE needs to come to terms with the fact that is supposed to serve teachers first. In order to do that it needs to make the following reforms:
1. Adopt an anti-harassment policy as part of their Code of Conduct
2. Half the governing board seats should be reserved for full time educators.
3. Fees need to be lowered to those that are similar to other academic conferences
4. A scholarship fund needs to be established to help bring in under-represented groups
5. Put a cap on the number of corporate or product sponsored panels - say no more than 5 percent.
Until then, it's #boycott ISTE