Top K-12 Education Policy People on Social Media 2015

As I foreshadowed last week, it’s time for my annual list of top Twitter handles in education policy. (Last year’s is here.) Today we’ll look at the rankings for top people; later this week we’ll release the results for top organizations and media outlets.

We tried to be much more inclusive this year in terms of the universe of folks included in our analysis, asking the edu-sphere to nominate people and organizations to examine. You came through in a big way; in the end we looked at almost 500 Twitter handles. (The whole list is here.) However, a couple of the same caveats remain from previous years: We wanted to limit the finalists to those who tweet primarily about K-12 education policy, and not education technology, higher education, parenting, or other related topics. And sometimes that meant making tough judgement calls. (More on that below.)

So without further ado, here are the top education policy people on social media, as measured by Klout scores (which looks at Twitter, Facebook, and several other platforms):

Top K-12 education policy people on social media, by Klout score, 2015

2015 Rank Name Handle Klout Score Twitter Followers 2014 Rank
1 Arne Duncan @arneduncan 84 217,000 1
2 Diane Ravitch @DianeRavitch 83 116,000 2
3 Randi Weingarten @rweingarten 81 49,500 3
4 John White @RuralED 76 4,974
5 Xian F’znger Barrett @xianb8 71 4,329 5
6 Jose Vilson @TheJLV 70 14,100 7
7 Andy Smarick @smarick 68 11,500 8
7 Robert Pondiscio @rpondiscio 68 4,401 15
9 Patrick Riccards @Eduflack 67 88,600 13
9 Julian Vasquez Heilig @ProfessorJVH 67 3,218
9 André-Tascha Lammé @andrelamme 67 687
12 Michael Petrilli @michaelpetrilli 66 17,700 16
12 Joy Resmovits @Joy_Resmovits 66 15,100 21
12 Deborah A. Gist @deborahgist 66 12,600
12 Jonas Chartock @jonaschartock 66 2,972 24
16 Alexander Russo @alexanderrusso 65 18,500 20
16 Peter Greene @palan57 65 2,992
16 Morgan Polikoff @mpolikoff 65 2,539 25
19 Anthony Cody @anthonycody 64 11,600 6
19 Rusul رسل @RusulAlrubail 64 4,601
21 Motoko Rich @motokorich 63 18,400
21 Joshua Starr @JoshuaPStarr 63 16,100
21 Libby Nelson @libbyanelson 63 9,908 23
21 Sabrina Stevens @teachersabrina 63 9,327 11
21 Jason Bedrick @JasonBedrick 63 1,679

See this list on Twitter.

So what to make of this year’s list? First, the big names are the same as in previous years: Arne Duncan, Diane Ravitch, and Randi Weingarten. That comes as no surprise. But second, it is in fact more diverse than previous editions, with more newbies. Surely our new selection process helped. Rookies include (among others) rural education expert John White; Professor (and reform critic) Julian Vasquez Heilig; StudentsFirst staffer André-Tascha Lammé, and teacher-blogger Peter Greene.

Note as well the number of folks on the list with high Klout scores and paltry Twitter followers. Perhaps they are powerhouses on Facebook or other social media platforms, or are particularly effective at stirring “engagement” on Twitter (such as getting prominent folks to re-tweet their posts).

Also, let me preempt Alexander Russo and point out that only three of these twenty-five people are journalists (Joy Resmovits of the Los Angeles Times, Motoko Rich of the New York Times, and Libby Nelson of Vox). What’s up with that?

Finally, I must mention several “honorable mentions”—people with sky-high Klout scores who tweet about education—but who (in my judgment) don’t tweet primarily about k-12 education policy. They include several folks who tweet a lot about education technology: Ted Fujimoto (@tedfujimoto); Tom Vander Ark (@tvanderark); Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby); Scott McLeod (@mcleod); and Patrick Larkin (@patrickmlarkin); higher education experts, including Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill); Sara Goldrick Rab (@saragoldrickrab); Shaun Harper (@DrShaunHarper); and Susan Dynarsk (@dynarski); and those that tweet mostly about parenting or other non-education topics, including Senator Michael Bennett (@SenBennetCO); Whitney Neal (@WhitneyNeal); Jessica Lahey (@jesslahey); Carrie Schneider (@CarriSchneider); and Emily Badger (@emilymbadger).

For sure, some of these are tough calls; Sara Goldrick Rab is currently doing research on high schools, for instance; Shaun Harper has a brand-new study out on disproportionate discipline rates in public schools nationwide. Yet most of their activity on Twitter appears to focus on higher ed (at least to my eye). But by all means follow them! (See a list of all of our honorable mentions on Twitter here.)

* * *

Ever since I started publishing these lists, many have complained about my use of Klout scores as the metric. Why not just look at the number of followers someone has instead? Indeed, why not? Let’s now run the numbers that way, and see what we get.

Top K-12 education policy people on social media, by Twitter followers, 2015

Rank Name Handle Followers Klout Score
1 Arne Duncan @arneduncan 217,000 84
2 Diane Ravitch @DianeRavitch 116,000 83
3 Patrick Riccards @Eduflack 88,600 67
4 Michelle Rhee @MichelleRhee 74,500 No Klout Score
5 Alfie Kohn @alfiekohn 53,600 No Klout Score
6 Randi Weingarten @rweingarten 49,500 81
7 Dorie Turner Nolt @EDPressSec 35,200 No Klout Score
8 Valerie Strauss @valeriestrauss 27,500 No Klout Score
9 Pasi Sahlberg @pasi_sahlberg 27,000 No Klout Score
10 Michael Fullan @MichaelFullan1 22,600 No Klout Score
11 Cameron Brenchley @CameronAtED 21,800 No Klout Score
12 Greg Toppo @gtoppo 21,200 61
13 Stephen Sawchuk @Stephen_Sawchuk 21,100 59
14 Vicki Phillips @drvickip 21,000 61
15 Yong Zhao @YongZhaoUO 20,100 52
16 Wendy Kopp @wendykopp 19,200 58
17 Alexander Russo @alexanderrusso 18,500 65
17 Tony Wagner @DrTonyWagner 18,500 61
19 Motoko Rich @motokorich 18,400 63
20 Michael Petrilli @michaelpetrilli 17,700 66
21 Campbell Brown @campbell_brown 17,200 No Klout Score
22 Andrew Rotherham @arotherham 16,600 62
23 Andy Hargreaves @HargreavesBC 16,500 58
24 Joshua Starr @JoshuaPStarr 16,100 63

See this list on Twitter.

So what to make of this list?* The most obvious observation is that a lot of education policy people with mega-Twitter followers don’t have Klout scores. Get yourselves signed up, folks!

Several people do well, whether judged by Klout scores or Twitter followers. Certainly that includes the biggies, such as Duncan, Ravitch, and Weingarten. But also give props to Patrick Riccards (aka @Eduflack), Alexander Russo, Motoko Rich, and Joshua Starr, who made both lists.

Education policy scholars seem to do particularly well by way of Twitter followers. Six people on Rick Hess’s “RHSU scholar ratings” list appear here too, namely Ravitch, Pasi Sahlberg, Michael Fullan, Yong Zhao, Tony Wagner, and Andy Hargreaves.

Some additional journalists show up on this ranking: Valerie Strauss (more of an opinion blogger than a journalist at this point); Greg Toppo of USA Today; and Steve Sawchuk of Education Week. (Plus Motoko Rich of the New York Times, who, as mentioned above, places on both lists.)

Let’s give credit to the “honorable mentions” here too, including many repeaters: Marc Lamont Hill, Tom Whitby, Scott McLeod, Patrick Larkin, Ted Fujimoto, Tom Vander Ark, and Senator Michael Bennett, plus one additional ed tech tweeter, Audrey Watters (@audreywatters).

* * *

Congrats to everyone. And stay tuned for more results later this week.

* The original post was corrected to delete Greg Harris (@edpolicy) from the list, whose number of Twitter followers was incorrect. We regret the mistake.

—Mike Petrilli


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