About a year ago, the head of curriculum and instruction for a southern state invited me at the behest of the education commissioner to share my website resources with all the schools in the state. Attached to the invitation was a list of websites of every publicly owned educational institution in the state.
I probably looked at websites for a several hundred high schools. A surprising number still were using .org domain names, instead of the now-standard public education domain names.
Even more surprising, most of the school websites appeared to have been designed for only the school community. Some of the websites consisted primarily of teacher or class webpages listing assignments and due dates—not information people outside the school community want to know.
Many websites consisted primarily lists of telephone contacts, helpful to those who already knew to whom they wished to speak, but not helpful to someone who wanted to know, for example, who to contact about renting the school gymnasium for a community event.
A handful of the school websites contained almost nothing but links to pdfs. The pdfs probably fulfill legal requirements to provide information, but they are not convenient for, or generally comprehensible, by the public.
Nationally, 70 percent or more of the public has no children in the school district. That group includes people who are most likely to vote. It is short-sighted, if not downright self-destructive, for schools not to provide information on their sites in forms that are clear and convenient to those likely voters.
Illustration credit: “Blue Website Buttons 2 1″ by LegendsWeb http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1369225