There are times when I find I have to take a step back. Especially this past week or two, with so much hubbub about the CFT negotiations, the Futures Conference, elections, the Immigration Forum and Bristol Place. And there is so much else just roiling beneath the surface – I am sure you can relate.
So as I step back, I see two very general categories, or catalysts, or … I don’t even know what to call them. But they get our goat. This is no great epiphany, but I had to start somewhere.
- Differences of opinion
It is not hard to find someone who believes in something different than you do. It is not hard to stumble across blogs, facebook pages, sound bites, tv ads or written commentary that expresses a strong opinion, and chances are that a large number of people feel differently. It is probably more accurate to say “think differently”, but the “feel” part of it is that knee-jerk reaction, that gut-level almost instantaneous “you’re wrong” thought that bubbles up unbidden. When we actually discipline ourselves to really think and not rely so much on “feel”, some great conversations and deliberation can happen. I was reminded of this just yesterday witnessing an exchange between a parent (Karen) and a Unit 4 administrator (Cheryl Camacho); what is awesome is that questions, thoughts, and genuine interest are traded back and forth – I find this to be an excellent learning experience. I invite you to join in (I will be right after this post *grin*).
From there I am going to make the impossible segue to money. I just wrote an email to members of the CFT negotiation teams asking for clarification about things being reported/opined in the News-Gazette (the recent editorial and Meg’s Update). In that email, I based my desire to learn answers off the very germane and wise quotes Gene Logas made in his “Where does all the money go?” presentation – in part:
“Citizens, being human, are almost certain to complain about these increased costs unless they are given the opportunity to understand that gone forever is the simplicity of the social structure served by the little red school-house in the days of our grandfathers.”
We are really good at complaining. Not so good at finding alternatives and/or solutions. We complain about government waste, about the deficit, the corruption in Illinois, the woeful state of funding for most things we care about, the price of gas. And now that Unit 4 has hired a firm (two for the price of two?), one can speculate that there will be a new effort to grease the skids and get the community to start swallowing a spoonful of sugar as the district gets ready for a 2014 referendum (ie, tax increase). And if we do not understand the gestalt, the big picture, the real nature, complaining might seem like the only practical road to follow, as helpless and hopeless as it is.
So for me, here is the glue. Let’s bring our differences of opinion to the table and talk about what we want our money to do. Or to look at it a different way, if you have a care at all about where you money goes, talk about it. Ask questions. Find answers. Find many different answers and chew on them. Spit them out. See what has merit and what is total BS.
And I’ll start by restating what I think the purpose of Education is; ultimately, a good education should equip the citizenry to do exactly what I said in the above paragraph; to have the skills to formulate one’s own thoughts, to listen, to read, to write, to think critically (ut oh, buzzword alert!), to be active in society whether it be a career, part-time work or pursuing one’s passion in a different way – to take all this, and to have a care about how resources are shared and utilized, to think about others and self, to be confident and yet respectful of others. I don’t care if you label it as a “participatory democracy” or something more Utopian I also very much despise the idea that society can simply drop kids off in a building and expect magic to happen all by itself. We are all, each one of us, constantly educators and learners. Thus we each intrinsically have value.
In Part II I dive down a little more the “dirt” of what I am digging through recently.