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174 Colorado Superintendents have signed on to a position statement related to school funding. Read the actual statement by following this link: Colorado Superintendent Finance Statement
“Why are we keeping score? Cause if you’re not laughing, who is laughing now? I’ve been wondering if we stopped sinking, could we stand our ground?” from
The Outsiders by Needtobreath.
Here is a radical proposal.
Think about the really critical, endemic, and persistent problems facing education. I’m specifically not talking about a person, some advocacy or constituency group, some localized and temporally limited issue, or a pet project. I’m talking about if we really got down to it, what we might agree are some deep and fundamental problems in education we need to confront. Let’s be parsimonious – try and narrow it down to three or four critical problems.
Got your list? Good.
Now imagine if as a country (or a state, or community for that matter), we put all our lists together and we could identify those problems that are really chronic and vexing – the ones keeping us from being great that we can’t seem to shake – the problems we are “stuck” on. This is harder than it might seem. Some people will need to let some things on their list go, or acknowledge that someone else raised a more important problem. People will need to give and take to get our problems down to a number we can really focus on to make some dramatic improvements.
Now, we have a second step. Just narrowing down the focus to the critical problems is plenty hard enough, but then you have to work together to get some agreement on the tactics we will take to solve these problems. Our focus in this second phase has to be on finding that Nash equilibrium, where no side gets all that it wants but each side achieves some degree of victory on their policy priorities. To really take on the big problems we face, we are going to need a long-term sustainable and concerted effort. The outcome of both identifying the problems, and identifying the tactics we will take together, need to stable for the long run.
As if just setting the agenda in the first step weren’t hard enough, narrowing focus and clearing the ambiguity for the tactics in the second step will be even more difficult. We will all have to mitigate and bring along the “radicals” and the “reactionaries” in our camps who have the goal of completely annihilating the other side and achieving some their personal Utopian vision of education policy where opposing views no longer exist. We cannot be seduced by these fantasies – these are illusions.
For lasting meaningful change to occur, we need to find a common voice. With this common voice, we can confront the problems we face and carry out the necessary solutions.
Des Moines, IA
One of the great things about working in education is that you get the chance to meet so many tremendous leaders who are real practitioners of the servant-leadership concept. One of these tremendous leaders is the Executive Director for Battelle for Kids, Dr. Jim Mahoney.
I had the chance to talk with Dr. Mahoney about my “entry plan” for Iowa being to spend a lot of time up front simply listening. He really liked this approach and he suggested to me a structure for these conversations that includes 3 questions for Iowa education:
1. What should we stop doing?
2. What should we keep doing?
3. What should we start doing?
I hit the ground in Iowa this Friday (1/14) and plan to spend the first two weeks meeting as many people as I can, asking these three questions, and listening. I’m going to take the results from this non-scientific “survey” as a qualitative way of getting a feel for the state’s strengths and concerns.
I won’t be able to meet everybody (though I’m sure going to try!), but if you’d like to have your voice included, please comment to this posting with your answer. If you’d rather not have your list be “public,” please send to my state email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I won’t be able to respond until after Friday (we have been asked not to send from these email accounts until then) but it is a safe place for me to collect some information.
Thanks for all you do and I so look forward to listening and learning!