I was giddy with excitement when I first saw the following email in my inbox a couple of days ago:
An article you wrote in 2011 titled Cheating Teachers: A Crucible of Character has earned your blog a nomination for a Fascination Award: 2012's Most Fascinating English Teacher blog.
The comments posted in response to your post prove that your content not only inspires your audience, but it also creates discussion around your posts, both of which are requirements for the nomination of a Fascination award.
As a nominee of this award, you have full permission to display the "Nominated" emblem on your website. To learn more about the contest, the rules, or the prizes, click here: 2012 Fascination Awards Rules & Prizes.
I have not previously earned any recognition for my blog, and the idea that I might win an award, even one I'd never heard about before, sucked me in.
Initially, I emailed my acceptance; then I decided I needed to explore this award a bit more. I clicked on the link and found myself directed to an online, for-profit degree program. I should have been more discerning when I first saw the sponsor's name: Accelerated Degree Programs.
Having meandered my way through school (I have 42 grad English credits in a program requiring 36, for example), I long ago decided that speeding through a program just to get a degree is antithetical to my philosophy of education, which has always been more about learning than about earning a certificate of any kind.
More importantly, I've criticized the Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction in this space for having earned an online degree, and a running joke among Idaho teachers is that he (Tom Luna) had a graduating class comprised of three students.
Considerable soul-searching led me to the decision that to be consistent in my character, to avoid the appearance of hypocrisy, and to follow my conscience, I need to decline this nomination. After all, the post for which I received the nomination addresses character: Cheating Teachers: A Crucible of Character. If I'm going to question the character of others in my profession, I need to keep my own as far above reproach as possible.
I'm not the only blogger to question the sponsor. TYWKIWDBI blogged about online degree programs that take advantage of federal financial aide guidelines. I don't want to promote any program with which I have little familiarity, which I'd be doing if I were to accept the nomination.
Now I'm worried that I will offend the one who nominated my blog. I sincerely hope I don't, and if that person sees this post, please accept my sincere apology and appreciation for validating my blog. I am so grateful to all who take the time to read my musings.
In truth, I'm having second, third, and fourth thoughts. Maybe I'm wrong. I just don't know, so I welcome any comments and insights readers can offer. In the final analysis, I just want to make the right, the ethical decision, even if it means I just get to say, "I'm honored to be nominated" after someone else wins.