Social democracy: manipulating Facebook to crowdsource ideas for change

Among my other adventures and exploration into “democracy” and what it really means, I came across an interesting email from the NAACP. No matter how you feel about the quality of public education and whether or not African Americans have got a raw deal out of it, the NAACP has initiated an experiment with social media and has set up a facebook page that allows you to comment on “What works”. I personally think it is an amazing concept. The downside is that you get a bunch of riff-raff who do not add much to the conversation at all, but there are a number of comments with sincere thinking behind them.


Now the challenge will be aggregating and reporting back on their findings. I wonder how they intend to do that. And then following the thread from those aggregate ideas to policy ideas, legislation and how that ultimately affects you and me.

New Civil lawsuit?

Is a reputable source? I am not sure if this is a farce or if it is legitimate, but this website documents a civil suit filed against Unit 4 (Beth Sheppard [misspelled] and Cheryl O’Leary) on behalf of Anna Robinson. I am not including a link until I can verify that this is legit. I have not yet found a way to view the contents of the case (not even sure if the public has access at this point). This might be a continuation (extension? child of?) a September 25, 2009 case involving the same parties, which I think was closed on June 22, 2012 by a granting of Summary Judgement on behalf of the defendants.


Again, this all assumes is valid and authoritative. I am not sure at this point, so I am asking others.

Houlihans July 25: tackling the bigger issues

So Chuck and I plan to be at Houlihans tomorrow (right, Chuck?). We will probably be talking about our efforts to exert a change in Board Policy, but we always welcome fresh ideas from old friends and new. Over the past couple of days, I have had the opportunity to float this idea pass several Board Members and the reactions have been mixed (which is a good thing – I would be worried if I received a homogeneous, standard response). Some repeated themes so far are that the Board has tried several attempts to further engage the public over the years, all of which kinda sputtered out. So while all members I have talked to so far have expressed a desire and interest to connect with the public, they are not exactly certain how to do that.

As stated earlier and echoed in the undertones of what I hear the board members saying, what we really need is a change in society. That is a much larger and more complex issue to deal with. The quintessential question seems to be “How do we entice more engagement?” Many things have been tried and none have been sustainable. Why is that?

Allow me to tangent a little and talk about the Board Meeting last night. I still don’t like the wording of the Champaign Telephone Company contract, but putting that aside, Meg Dickinson wrote an article about the need for nine new hall monitors at the high schools. This got me to thinking about Read the rest of this entry »

Special Board Meeting tonight

Apparently a Press Release was sent out on July 20th to give Notice of a Special Board Meeting tonight. The agenda is really short (sorry, unable to link to BoardDocs at the moment BoardDocs seems to be working as of 1:pm); BoardDocs has very little to show except for work with Westview – a contract with Champaign Telephone Company to do $146k worth of work. Wow. The wording sounds like we got around contract law (ie, low bidder) by some technicality, although I do not fully understand it.

Anyone planning to go? I cannot.

Crowdsourcing a draft for a new Board Policy

I am trying an experiment where I invite readers to help me craft a new policy for the Board. Please keep in mind there is a lot of unspoken depth to that first sentence; for instance, we community members cannot write policy. There are other issues as well. My point is to see what would happen if community members wanted a specific policy, and the process involved in getting to the Board and having the Board Members sponsor it and enact it. To that end, I have already started talking to Board Members because I am serious about seeing if we can get an agenda item on this topic for the August 9th Board Meeting. My goal, one way or another, is to change Board policy. I may fail, but from my point of view, this is a learning experience all around and thus worthwhile no matter what.


I am going to list a few iterations that Chuck Jackson and I have already discussed as a possible draft policy (using the Wheaton example as a starting point). We are opening it up for comment, suggestions and alternatives. My one rule is that if you don’t like something, please state what it is and suggest something else to replace it. To frame what we are doing, we are trying to keep it in simple language (as little Legalese as possible) with enough embedded description that future readers (future Board Members?) don’t have to guess at where we were going.


Draft I Read the rest of this entry »

Percolating thoughts

The Board believes the District will be most successful when the community is aware of and understands the District’s efforts and goals.

Source: December 01, 2011 EEE Committee Meeting minutes

I would take this further; the word picture I use is like a marriage – the general health and excellence of the relationship is (I believe) optimal when all parties share the same goals within the context of each individual’s whole self. Yes, the District will be better off when the community is aware of and understands the District’s efforts and goals, but I wish to clarify that and hope that the goals are shaped and the efforts are guided by a strong community collaborative partnership. I say that very deliberately – I do not think the goals and efforts should be determined by the state, nor the government (as it exists now). Unfortunately, it is my observation that our schools are currently, largely, a reflection of  legislation.

Allow me to take you a short tour of stories that have impressed me this past week (or so).

  • Vandana Shiva (hat tip to Pattsi Petri): Ms. Shiva is not stupid – she has studied nuclear physics and has researched Quantum mechanics. As one commentor said “I would have hoped that studying physics and quantum theory would lead most students to similar conclusions of social and environmental equality but it cannot be. It must require a love of people first.” Her ideas of interconnectedness are fascinating, to say the least, but it totally makes sense. I could not help but see this report through the lens of education, especially Read the rest of this entry »

No Houlihans today

Sorry to cancel at the last moment – had a rough couple of days and I need to chill.