how Brexit is unlike Trump (and what to do about it)

When they think about Brexit, most of my American friends equate it with the election of Donald Trump. Both events are seen as manifestations of xenophobia, paranoia toward elites, and even Russian propaganda.

You can tell that this analogy is weak from the stance of Labour, which is meeting right now for its conference in Liverpool and debating a huge range of motions on Brexit. Yesterday, the Guardian reported:

Consensus appeared to break out as Jeremy Corbyn insisted he would follow the democratic will of his party if delegates voted for a second referendum on the final Brexit deal. But trouble could still be brewing. The Labour leader refused to say which way he would vote. The Unite chief, Len McCluskey, added his tuppence worth, suggesting it would be wrong for any new vote to include the option of staying in the EU. Remainers will be unimpressed.

Last night, after 5.5 hours of negotiation, party leaders emerged with a draft statement that criticizes “the Tories’ chaotic approach to the Brexit negotiations,” calls for a general election, and fudges everything else. Corbyn himself voted against Brexit, but he also voted against the key European treaties of 1975, 1992, and 2008; he has little positive to say about the current EU; and he has frequently pledged to “respect the referendum” that passed Brexit.

Imagine if Bernie Sanders won control of the Democratic Party and refused to say which way he would vote on Trump’s Wall or the refugee ban, while expressing respect for the policy implications of an election held several years ago. That would be plausible if Brexit were like Trump–but it isn’t.

I can’t overstate my own disappointment with the Brexit vote. My commitment to European integration goes back to the 1970s, when I was a child in a London primary school with a literal WWII bomb site next door. The European Economic Community was forming in those days, and we studied each member country in turn–in order to become peaceful, pluralist, democratic Europeans. (By the way, this was a Christian socialist state primary school run on progressive lines.) I’m proudly a citizen of the USA but have remained deeply invested in the ideal of European unity.

However, it is a matter for debate and reasonable disagreement whether the current form of the EU merits membership. One doesn’t have to be a bigot or a fool to want to leave. If you approach politics from the left, you will see both pros and cons to exit.

For Labour politicians, ambiguity is attractive, because they can hope to win votes from both sides on Brexit while blaming the inevitable fiasco on chaotic Tory management.

I happen to believe in what Bill Galston once called “the obligation to play hardball,” and I think a Labour policy of deferring on Brexit until the outcome crushes the Conservatives is possibly a good hardball play (to use a baseball metaphor for the land of cricket).

But it also has risks, even from a Labour perspective:

  1. Constitutional risks: there is now a widespread sentiment in Britain that respecting a referendum is the best way to honor democracy. (And holding a second referendum would somehow undermine the people’s will.) The traditional view was that the British people were best represented by Parliament, which they choose to exercise sovereignty between elections. That is a better political theory, because government should be deliberative and flexible. Parliamentary sovereignty would return if Labour took a clear position against Brexit. No one would doubt that Parliament could overrule the referendum once voters gave Labour a mandate to do so. It would then be equally clear that Britain is heading toward Brexit because the Tories are in the government. Hence there is only one reason that parliamentary sovereignty is at risk: the opposition refuses to take a position on the most pressing issue of the day.
  2. Risks to the European left: many have noted that if Labour takes over and Britain gains the same status as Norway (all the rules without a vote in Brussels), then Europe will lose the strongest potential voice of the left–Corbyn, as the leader of the second-biggest EU economy. The best way for a Labour voter to try to influence all of Europe is to stay in the EU.
  3. Risks to the United Kingdom: the most obvious danger is the collapse of Irish peace due to a hard border. But you can also see pro-European Scotland constantly looking to leave Britain if the UK leaves the EU. There are arguments for Scottish independence, but if you’re a Labour voter (either north or south of the border), you should definitely want to keep all those leftish Scots in the country.
  4. Risks to Labour: I can believe that Britain will sustain a terrible shock from Brexit and that voters will long blame the Tories for it. But will they respect Labour if Labour didn’t oppose Brexit while it had a chance? On the other hand, if the exit goes reasonably well, the Tories will benefit. Thus ambiguity presents electoral risks, not just as benefits, for Labour.

Founders Month in Florida: A Student Essay about James Armistead Lafayette


So over the last month, we have been doing posts on various Founders, and I thought it might be nice to feature a post written by a middle school student about someone important to the founding of this country. So today, I ask that you please read this post about a Founder by the name of James Armistead Lafayette, brought to us by a young lady named Hannah, in Marion County.

James Armistead Lafayette: The Forgotten Founder

As the British generals discussed their war plans, they had no idea of the traitor in their midst.  After all, they believed him to be one of their own.  Little did they know, that their spy, a slave, was a double agent for the colonists.  There should be no reason for the officers to have been suspicious, in all likelihood the slave could not read or write.  He spied on the colonies and gave good information.  He took the crucial information learned in the British camp back to General Marquis de Lafayette himself.  Those acts are an important reason why America prevailed in the Battle of Yorktown and won our independence.  How could a man of such low status have gained the trust of General Lafayette?  Why is the impact of such a vital character in the story of American independence often omitted?  This American patriot, James Armistead Lafayette, was born into slavery and died a free man after his service in the Revolutionary War.  Armistead Lafayette infiltrated the British forces as an American spy, provided information that helped America win the Battle of Yorktown, and went on to take Lafayette’s name when he gained his freedom.  Based on these historical events, James Armistead Lafayette is the most important American founder.

James Armistead was employed by Lafayette as a spy because the general hoped to gain intelligence on British movements.  Posing as a runaway slave, he was able to infiltrate the British forces.  The double agent’s espionage resulted in the possession of the locations of British troops, arms and battle strategies by British Generals Benedict Arnold and Cornwallis.  The information he gathered would prove to be essential to the Founders’ victory at the Battle of Yorktown.

Leading up to the battle, Armistead obtained indispensable knowledge of British preparations.  In his time as a British agent, Armistead helped guide British troops through local roads.  While In camps, officers would openly speak about war strategies, which he then documented and turned over to other American spies.  Armistead had gained the trust of both the American and British war camps and could pass freely between the two.  In his reports back and forth, Armistead with the help of General Washington and General Lafayette, was able to prevent the British from sending 10,000 reinforcements to Yorktown.  Because of this the British military was crippled and eventually surrendered to the colonies on October 19, 1781, resulting in the birth of our nation.

After Armistead Lafayette helped America win her independence, he went on to gain his freedom and take Lafayette’s name.  Unfortunately, following the American victory, James Armistead was returned to slavery because a law freeing slaves who fought in the war did not apply to him.  However, he petitioned the Virginia Assembly to obtain his freedom.  His petition was supported by his owner and a letter from Marquis de Lafayette saying, “He properly acquitted himself with some important commissions I gave him and appears to me entitled to every reward his situation can admit of.”  This provides sufficient evidence that while in Lafayette’s service, Armistead deserved not only his freedom but every right that could be offered to him.  The words alone are empowering, but considering that the man behind them is a general makes them all the more credible.  After James gained his freedom, he took the name of the man who advocated for him when nobody else would.  There is an engraving from the 1780s on display in the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Museum of Marquis de Lafayette standing next to a man believed to be James Armistead Lafayette.  The fact that Armistead, a slave, is depicted in the foreground with General Lafayette is so incredible due to the fact that artists rarely produced works with enslaved persons in the foreground of a picture, much less with a well esteemed general.  This gives further support for the status, contributions, and importance of James Armistead Lafayette.

After all of the information has been reviewed the question as to why James Armistead Lafayette is forgotten from the narrative of American history looms even larger. In the face of slavery and oppression, James Armistead Lafayette went on to help America gain their freedom in the face of tyranny and in turn, gained his own. In his life, James Armistead Lafayette infiltrated the British forces as an American spy, provided information that helped win the Battle of Yorktown, and went on to take Lafayette’s name when he gained his freedom to become the most important American founder.

Thanks so much, Hannah, for sharing this with us, and for teaching us about someone who deserves more attention for his contribution to American freedom. You can learn more about James Armistead Lafayette here. 

self help: a short story

Political prisoner K. was sentenced to solitary, with only cement walls, a cot, a stinking bucket, and a food slot for company.

One day, on his way back from interrogation, he saw a tattered paperback on the floor. The guard let him take it with him. It turned out to be Letting Your Inner Boss Shout by Dr. Bradford P. Bradley, PhD.

K. was enraged at first by its solecisms, trivialities, cliches and lexical trespasses. Anything would be better than this! After reading it several times without finding any value in its Six Winning Strategies for Asserting Your True Needs in an Office Context, he began selecting fragments from the pages. The rule was to leave chosen words in place but hide the rest. For instance:

Another game: rearranging all the words of a sentence to say something better:

The Six remember. Strategies, always.

True, winners: their real minds speak.

These activities engaged K’s. attention for several days, but something kept intruding. Or rather, someone. Dr Bradley, PhD.–Brad Bradley–just Brad. Was he raggedly bearded and balding, with spots on his head and long speeches to give? Or a young guy, bored out of his mind, looking for new life though writing? A pseudonymous woman, quiet observer of her office culture? An ironist, chuckling as he typed?

K. couldn’t quite tell. Alternatives multiplied into a whole community of Brads.

The real author, whoever it might be, seemed to deserve the respect of attention. Maybe Brad really had only five strategies in mind, but the book was too short and he’d wracked his poor brain until he came up with a sixth to pad the pages. Or maybe Brad knew that eleven strategies were necessary for achieving your life goals, but the cheapskate publisher forced him to cut five of them, and now he was worried to death about his misinformed readers.

It was good, in any case, to have a companion. The six strategies had been meant as gifts; perhaps it would be better to accept them as such. With thanks, even.

Prisoner K. and Dr. B. Just the two of them, in solitary but not solitary. Shouting their inner bosses. Hearing the other’s shouts. Having someone to walk with blindfolded to the final wall.

(Chicago, Sept. 20)

Public Square Academy Seeking Program Collaborators

The Public Square Academy (PSA) is looking to develop educational and civic online programs. NCDD member Michael Freedman shared the announcement that they are looking for those with civic and educational expertise to develop programs across broad topics areas of education, community engagement, government, and more. There is an opportunity for free 4-weeks training while developing the program, which you can learn more about in the post below and find the original on PSA’s site here.

The Public Square Academy Program Designers

The Public Square Academy (PSA) is building a catalog of civic and consumer education programs. These programs differ from typical online programs in that they will emphasize student interaction, cohesive group learning, and active mentoring. This model results in deeper learning and a more rewarding experience for the participants.

We are looking for designers, teachers, subject matter experts (SMEs), authors, and influencers who have civic or consumer education expertise and passion, to develop programs for the Academy. These will be narrow topics in a broad area of programs: from policy and advocacy to government structure and operations, personal and community development, school and workplace engagement, consumer training in financial literacy, healthcare, and consumer rights.  Come on. Rise up!

Programs are remote, based on an LMS, and use video conferencing. We offer the following program models:

Classes – Led by teachers

  • Synchronous Class – These are group-based courses for complex learning with a focus on interactivity: discussions, case studies, and projects. This is our primary course model and provides the best learning experience by using active mentoring, dynamic groups, and interactive learning experiences. Synchronous courses have scheduled group meetings using video conference or in person.
  • Asynchronous Class. Short DIY courses for foundational knowledge. These are equivalent to typical online programs. These programs are good as short courses for a basic introduction to a content area but do not provide deep learning. These programs are not group-based but will include active mentoring.

Workshops – Supported by Guides / SMEs

  • Workshops are supported, content-rich skill or capacity-building programs where individuals or groups work on guided, but self-directed projects to learn and develop specific skills to develop actionable results. Workshops are a good follow up to a course where new skills can be put right into practice.

Forums – Guided by Moderators

  • Topic-focused program with rich background material and guidance focused on generating solutions to problems. These may be continuous learning communities or time / event-bounded.

Candidates will receive 4-weeks training in program design at no charge while they refine their program proposal.

Compensation will be royalties based on revenue earned when a mentor uses your program (you will retain the I.P. rights to the programs you build). If you mentor your program directly, then you earn a greater share of the revenue. So, if you have a great program and/or are an exceptional teacher, you will be able to earn a respectable income. To be clear, income is based on student revenue, so won’t be earned until the programs are up and running. Here are some program ideas we think are worthwhile.

For starters, please send a short – one-page proposal for a program(s) you want to build/offer along with a resume. Include a brief outline/description, identify the target audience/participants and the program’s learning goals.

Here are design guidelines to work with:

  • Select one or more program models from the above list, define your audience (be as defined and narrow as you can be) and learning objectives.
  • Our programs are for adult learners (individuals, groups, or within schools or organizations)
  • Incorporate highly interactive elements: discussions, projects, collaborations, scripted role plays, simulations, and games/competitions.
  • Optionally, develop a turnkey curriculum for students and mentors, make it customizable and localizable. This option enables program owners to scale their programs and income.
  • Commercially viable: people will want to participate because it’s meaningful and enjoyable. It will provide participants with a transformative experience.
  • Proposed programs must be in alignment with the Academy’s mission.

Please feel free to ask questions or ask for a phone call or video chat. This program emphasizes relationships, so why not start with a conversation.

For more information, contact Michael Freedman at: Michael (at) ThePublicSquare (dot) Academy

You can find the original version of this announcement on PSA’s at

ENGAGING IDEAS – 09/21/2018


The death of democracy and birth of an unknown beast (The Economist)
History provides uncomfortable lessons. Among them is that systems of governance are not immortal and that democracies can devolve into autocracy. As institutions decay and social norms fray, democratic processes and practices are prone to apathy, demagoguery and disintegration. Continue Reading

Democracy Will Still Surprise Us (New York Times)
Of late, Western democracy has concentrated rather than spread wealth, suggesting it serves injustice. But it is stubborn and adaptable. Continue Reading

US democracy is not at risk - it's working like the Constitution intended it to (Business Insider)
American democracy might depend on the three branches of government functioning, but there are three other powers that keep it alive: the states, constitutionally protected institutions, and most importantly, the people. Continue Reading


Latest Fed Data On Household Wealth Mask Massive Inequality (Forbes)
The Federal Reserve released its latest data on the country's finances on September 20. The household data show continued increases in wealth, but that is not the whole story. Millions of households are left out of the stock and housing booms. Continue Reading

Rich-world wage growth continues to disappoint (The Economist)
THE world is still in recovery mode fully ten years after the financial crisis of 2008-09. Inflation-adjusted wages grew by an average of 27% in the decade before the crisis in the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries. In the ten years since, real wages have increased by just 8.4%, on average. Continue Reading

Ray Dalio: Rising debt, income inequality and political polarization are a recipe for a nasty downturn (MarketWatch)
The billionaire hedge-fund manager warns the next financial crisis will threaten capitalism and democracy Continue Reading


Residents use art to encourage civic engagement in their neighborhoods (The Rapidian)
Dwelling Place summer get out the vote events allowed residents the freedom to drop by and paint a poster, register to vote, check their registration status and more. Continue Reading

The art of civic engagement (University of New Mexico)
Beyond the world of entertainment, there's an intersection where art and activism meet. This is where you will find For Freedoms, a self-described "hub for artists and art institutions who want to be more engaged in public life." In collaboration with For Freedoms, The University of New Mexico (UNM) Art Museum and College of Fine Arts are joining the 50 State Initiative, a project centered around "the vital work of artists." These student-driven projects are art with an endgame - getting people to participate in democracy. Continue Reading

Participatory Budgeting Kicks Off, Help Decide How to Spend More Than $1.5 Million in District (Greenpoint Post)
Another round of participatory budgeting is in the works for the district, with more than $1.5 million on offer to fund local projects, Council Member Stephen Levin announced last week. Continue Reading


Jeff Bezos Cites a Big Number, but Few Details, in Plan for Low-Income Montessori Preschools

(New York Times)
When Jeff Bezos announced last week that he and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, would create and operate a national network of Montessori preschools, few were more surprised than Montessori organizations and leaders themselves. Continue Reading

The learning experience is different in schools that assign laptops, a survey finds (The Hechinger Report)
More than twice as many principals in 2017 said students in their schools were assigned some type of mobile device, like a laptop or tablet, than in 2015. That's according to the Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning, which found that 60 percent of principals who responded to its latest survey say they assign these devices, compared with 27 percent two years earlier. Continue Reading

Brooklyn middle schools eliminate 'screening' as New York City expands integration efforts (Chalkbeat)
New York's Department of Education on Thursday approved sweeping changes to the way students are admitted to middle schools across an entire Brooklyn district, marking one of the most far-reaching integration efforts under Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration. Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

In Race for Students, Colleges Offer to Match Tuition at Rival Schools (Wall Street Journal)
Price-match guarantee, a sales tactic borrowed from retailers, illustrates how fiercely competitive higher education has become. Continue Reading

Colorado College Helps Dreamers Afford Higher Education (US News & World Report)
Dreamers, or those eligible for the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program, can work and pay taxes but are not eligible to receive state or government financial aid. They can apply for private college scholarships, and in Colorado they are eligible for in-state tuition if they have lived in the state for three years, but for many higher education can still seem like a distant reality. Continue Reading

Giving all students a voice is key to more effective higher education (Arizona State University)
Frank Rhodes Lecture speaker Cathy Davidson encourages a 'provocative way of thinking' when it comes to learning. Continue Reading

Health Care

Health Pros Nudge Senate Toward Care Quality, Price Transparency (Patient EngagementHIT)
A Senate HELP meeting discussed the need for better care quality and price transparency for patient healthcare decision-making. Continue Reading

Lack of price transparency impeding informed care decisions (Health Data Management)
Consumers are being blindsided by the high costs of their healthcare because of the lack of available price transparency data to make informed buying decisions. Continue Reading

HHS wants private sector input on healthcare innovation, investment (Health Data Management)
The federal agency in charge of healthcare delivery is seeking to increase the dialogue on increasing innovation and investment in healthcare. Continue Reading

More Upcoming 2018 FCSS Conference Highlights!

page 12018conf

The other day we shared some upcoming FCSS conference sessions that caught our attention. But oh my goodness there are so many more that are worth a look! Let’s pick up with a look at sessions later in the afternoon! Oh, and register for the conference here. 

October 20th, 2018
Concurrent Session 4
Complicating the Narrative: Teaching 9/11 in a Changing World
Jennifer Lagasse, 9/11 Memorial and Museum
This is a session that intrigues your bloghost greatly. How do we balance instruction about a topic that is, increasingly, becoming less of a memory for the next generation of students? How do we approach teaching about civil liberties, national security, religion, and more? A presenter from the 9/11 Memorial and Museum will lead the discussion!

Politics-in-Action: Transforming Your Semester-Long U.S. Government Course through Project-Based Learning
Chris Spinale, FJCC at LFI Action Civics Coordinator
Dr. Jane Lo, Florida State University
Project-based learning. Can we ever get enough resources to implement it in the classroom? Learn about a simulation-oriented approach to teaching government that has proven successful in many classrooms. This is a free, ready-made curriculum you can use and adapt for your own classrooms.

The State of the Assessment: The Civics EOCA
Dr. Stacy Skinner, Test Development Center, Florida Department of Education
Lots of folks involved in test development and review
So, what’s going on with the state assessment for Civics? Learn from the person that is in charge of putting it together! This session will be similiar to the earlier U.S. History session on this topic. 

Concurrent Session 5
Contextualizing Equality: Founding Fathers and Founding Principles
Jennifer Jaso, Florida Council for History Education
This interesting session uses primary sources to explore whether the Founding Fathers truly supported the principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence. 

Step Up America: A Call to Good Citizenship
Terri Lynn Demmon, Step Up America
Learn about how this how this non-partisan organization can help you teach your students about good citizenship, patriotism, and history!

Simulations, Technology, Oh My!
Jillianne King, Davidsen Middle School
Cory Puppa, Martinez Middle School
Engage your students in civics through the use of technology! Check out some cool resources that you can use to deepen your kids’ understanding of civics while also engaging them deeper in their learning! 


In a later post, we’ll further explore sessions and the excellent keynotes for Saturday and Sunday, but don’t forget that Saturday will be an awards dinner where you can see your peers and colleagues recognized for their contributions to the social studies community! So be sure to get your tickets in advance!

And of course you can register for the conference here. Be sure to check this space for additional highlights of scheduled sessions and events and sponsors and vendors!

why learn game theory? (a lesson plan that includes a game)

You may or may not be interested in games: playing them, designing them, or analyzing them with the tools of game theory. It is certainly understandable if games are not your thing. However, I believe that everyone should develop the skill of understanding interpersonal situations in terms of the choices and consequences that confront every actor, which is the essence of game theory.

This is a way of detecting problems that you might be able to fix. It is also a way to be more fair. Too often, we analyze situations in terms of the choices that confront us and the results that will befall us if we make any choice. We see other people as doing the right or the wrong thing, from our perspective. It is important to step away from that first-person view and assess the choices–and the costs and benefits–that confront everyone. Then their behavior may seem more reasonable, and the root of the problem may lie in the situation, not in the other people’s values.

When used as models of real life, games simplify and abstract. That is both a limitation and a huge advantage: a model can clarify important problems and patterns that may be hidden in the real world’s complexity.

Games do not presume that the players are selfish; in fact, altruists can get tangled up with coordination problems that games model well. Nor do games assume that people have full information or act rationally; uncertainty, randomness, and error can be built in.

Games do model situations in which people or other entities (e.g., animals, companies, nations) make separate choices, and the outcome results from the interaction of their decisions. Games are not very helpful for modeling other kinds of situations. One important form of civic action that they do not model well is a discussion about what is right (and why). Exchanging opinions and reasons isn’t well illuminated by a game. Therefore, I do not think that civic actors should only learn from games, yet game theory is a useful skill.

One way to introduce game theory is to play a game and reflect on how it works as a model.

Almost identical lesson plans can be found all over the Internet for a classroom game that models the Tragedy of the Commons using Goldfish crackers. I’m not sure who deserves the authorial credit for designing this lesson in the first place, but I have adopted it for several different classes and will share my current design.

Materials: goldfish crackers (“fish”); plastic bowls (“lakes”); and forks (as tools for fishing).

Each group of four people should sit in a circle around its lake, which contains nine fish to start. Players “fish” by removing the goldfish from the bowl with a fork. All groups fish for 15 seconds while the instructor keeps time. Then students put down their forks and the fish “reproduce”: each fish left in the lake produces two offspring, up to a total population of 16, which is the carrying capacity of the lake. Then you repeat fishing for another season until either the seasons are over or the fish run out.

I do not explain the goal or what counts as winning, because that will vary in interesting ways.

Each round has different rules.

  1. We play three seasons without talking at all.
  2. We play three seasons and may talk before the game begins and during it.
  3. Each group plays an unannounced number of seasons before I stop them. They may talk.
  4. We play three seasons silently, and each group rotates one fisher at a time. That person may spend as little or as much time as she likes. As long as she holds her fork, the others must wait.
  5. We play using game 2 rules, except students may take fish from any table.

I keep track of the largest number of fish collected by any individual in each game and the number of fish left in the whole room at the end of each game.

Below are the results from yesterday’s game, with 52 Tufts undergrads. Note that 68 fish were left when the number of seasons was unknown and students could talk. That is more than seven times more fish than survived in the first game, with a known number of seasons and no ability to communicate orally.

Questions for discussion:

  • Did we observe “tragedies,” or not?
  • When we did not, why not? What solutions did groups come up with?
  • What were individuals trying to achieve? (Responses will likely vary: obtaining the most fish, trying to be fair, trying to look like nice people, learning by experimenting with different tactics.)
  • Were your objectives affected by your perception of what other players were trying to achieve? (A norm can be understood as a shared sense of the goal.)
  • What is the optimal solution? (Students should consider: maximizing the number of fish consumed, or the number of fish preserved at the end, and/or equity among the players. Other proposals may also emerge.)
  • What parameters are included in the game? (Responses should include: attributes of the physical world; attributes of the community; official rules; and rules-in-use.)
  • How realistic is the scenario? What is it a realistic model of?
  • What assumptions does it make? How might those differ in reality? For instance, what if we played with $100 bills instead of Goldfish crackers?
  • Why did everyone follow the instructor’s rules? Why not just grab the Goldfish?
  • To what extent did additional rules emerge in practice? Is it realistic that people followed rules?
  • In general, is it helpful to model a society using games? What assumptions does a game model make? (Selfishness?) What might a game not model well?

See also: evolution, game theory, and the morality of modern human beingsthoughts about game theory; and game theory and the fiscal cliff (ii).

Teacher Collaboration: Improving Student Outcomes

Join Public Agenda and the Albert Shanker Institute for a free 1-hour webinar on Thursday, Sept. 20, to explore how teachers, principals, superintendents, school board members and other administrators and leaders can work together to foster collaboration among teachers. While research shows that teacher collaboration can offer many benefits for students and teachers alike, and while educators are generally supportive of collaborative practices, there is still much to learn about how to foster collaborative workplaces.

How to Create a More Collaborative Workplace for Teachers begins to fill this gap by bringing together a panel of education professionals who will discuss the efficacy of teacher collaboration and share their knowledge and experiences on how to foster more collaborative workplaces.

Panelists include:

  • Ilana Horn, Author and Professor, Vanderbilt University
  • Toby Romer, Assistant Superintendent, Newton Public Schools
  • Laura Booker, Executive Director of Research, Tennessee Department of Education.

Attendees will also learn more about a suite of materials designed by Public Agenda, with support from the Spencer Foundation, that can contribute to a better-informed dialogue about how teachers can work more collaboratively. The webinar will conclude with a question and answer session for attendees.

To register for this free webinar and to receive updates leading up to the event, please click here. We look forward to having you join us.

Founders Month in Florida: Thomas Jefferson

Sept 25 Jefferson

American Founders’ Month continues in Florida. Today, we look at Thomas Jefferson. Out of all of the Founders’, it may be Thomas Jefferson that most schoolchildren are most familiar with. They know him, of course, as the author of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration, of course, is considered on of the clearest rebukes of tyranny ever written, and it remains to this day a symbol of the pursuit of liberty the world over.

Like many of his peers, however, Jefferson was a man of massive contradictions. An advocate for liberty who owned a great many slaves, a slaveowner who recognized the evils of slavery (‘the rock upon which the Union would split’) but never freed his own slaves (unlike his colleague and friend George Washington, who freed his own upon his death), an opponent of an activist and strong central government who nevertheless used his power to purchase vast swathes of land from the French (despite his doubts about whether the Constitution gave him that power), and a believer in the importance of civility and comity in politics and life who was involved in one of the most brutal presidential campaigns in American history.

Thomas Jefferson was indeed many things, some good, some bad, but all important to the legacy of freedom and the Founders of this country. As one of his successors as president, John F. Kennedy, once said while hosting a dinner for Nobel Prize winners,

I want to tell you how welcome you are to the White House. I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.
Someone once said that Thomas Jefferson was a gentleman of 32 who could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, and dance the minuet.

Log in and learn more about Thomas Jefferson from this excellent lesson provided by our friends at iCivics! 

You can grab the PowerPoint featured at the top of this post here: Thomas Jefferson AFM

Senator Ihara Announces Launch of Civic Square Initiative

National Issues Forums Institute, an NCDD member org and sponsor of NCDD2018, recently share this piece from Senator Les Ihara, a regular attendee of NCDD conferences, who just launched Civic Square (aka The Whole): A Sacred Civic Space to Live Aloha. Civic Square, is an initiative which seeks to provide a safe space for people to convene and collaborate civically to further citizen-centered democracy. You can read about Civic Square in the post below and find more information on NIFI’s site here.

From State Senator Les Ihara, Jr. in Hawaii – Announcing the Civic Square Initiative

On August 9, 2018, Hawaii state senator, Les Ihara, Jr., has announced the launch of the Civic Square (aka The Whole): A Sacred Civic Space to Live Aloha.

You can read more about the Civic Square in Civic Square Manifesto.

The following are excerpts from the three-page Civic Square Manifesto:

Civic Square is a sacred civic space in the public square. Civic Square is a safe space for people to share their civic aspirations, values, and practices with each other. Civic Square is a network of civic-minded people who practice a community ethic of living Aloha, as defined in Hawai’i law, §HRS 5-7.5. We are a learning community interested in civic acts of courage, community, collaboration, and networked markets…

Civic Square is a non-partisan, private nonprofit organization. Its mission is to create and share global narratives in the community and on CivicSquare808 social media platforms. Civic Square will share its narrative and platform at meet-ups and events initiated by participants, including at group meetings and school classes. Civic Square supports the aspiration of a citizen-centered democracy, and proposes the civic leader as an archetype for humanity…

Civic Square seeks to establish online networking as a regular and normal practice among people who collaborate for civic purposes. Civic values live in relationship, so people in CivicSquare808 are encouraged to participate in pairs or groups. Joint civic efforts express values that appear on Civic Square’s radar as the civic acts of those relationships. Our self-organizing principles mean that participants collaborate to decide the interests and projects they want to pursue…

Civic Square is a sacred civic space in the public square. We invite people to honor civic values in their life, and share stories of living Aloha. Learn more about us and how to participate at and on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Vimeo. We can also be contacted by email at

Civic Square was created in May 2018 by Les Ihara, Jr., in partnership with Russell Ruderman. Civic Square’s nonprofit corporation is registered with the Hawaii State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

You can read the original version of this article on NIFI’s blog at