The Future of K-12 Education (IF Discussion Guide)

The 20-page discussion guide, The Future of K-12 Education, was published by Interactivity Foundation and edited by Adolf Gundersen; based on discussions facilitated by Gunderson, Dennis Boyer, Sue Goodney Lea, and Zeus Yiamouyiannis. This guide provides five policy perspectives regarding learning and the nature of education. From IF, “The discussion report on the Future of K-12 Education grew out of a longer-term project discussion in 2006-2008 that produced an initial set of more conceptual or theoretical possibilities for education in general. These possibilities were eventually re-rafted to make them somewhat more practical or policy oriented. And the revised possibilities were then tested in four additional public discussion series in the fall of 2010. Overall, six different discussion panels (meeting in four regions of the country) and seven IF facilitators/fellows contributed to the development of this report.” This report is available in Spanish and can be found on IF’s site here.

Below is an excerpt of the guide, which can be downloaded as a PDF for free from IF’s site here.

From the introduction…

Purpose and Origin of This Report
You are here because you’re interested in discussing the future of K-12 education. The materials in this Citizen Discussion Report will help you do so in a way that is exploratory, rather than competitive or argumentative. The more exploratory your discussion, the more likely you will leave thinking about K-12 education as a social concern and about how public policy might respond to it. You will also be better equipped to make more informed choices as a citizen.

This report has two main parts: a short list of possible questions and answers about K-12 education policy, followed by five public-policy responses. The information is designed to help launch your discussion. It will serve as a point of departure for your discussion, not as a map of what’s already been “discovered” through expert study or what’s been agreed on by influential groups. It will also help keep your discussion exploratory, as it provides general possibilities rather than final answers.

The descriptions you will find here examine a variety of perspectives on K-12 education policy, while maintaining the idea that there are always more to consider. Because they are general, or conceptual, there should guide you in examining the “big questions”, while helping you avoid technical arguments over details. They invite you to develop them further or come up with entirely new ones of your own.

Who Developed the Report
This report is a product of the Interactivity Foundations (IF), a nonpartisan public-interest foundation that was established to promote citizen discussions like the one you are about to have. One of IF’s roles is to produce discussion materials like this report.

Typically, IF reports result from a series of discussions that unfold over the course of a year and half. They are organized and conducted by a single IF fellow, who also edits and collects the material in the form of a report. In this case, an IF discussion project produced an initial set of possibilities, which were then re-drafted and tested in four additional discussion series during the fall of 2010. In all, six discussion panels (meeting in four regions of the country) and seven IF facilitators had a hand in this report.

Generally, participants in IF projects are selected for their ability to think creatively and constructively about the chosen area of concern. Discussion panelists are then divided into two groups: one of expert-specialists; the other of citizen-generalists.  The advantage of having two groups is that the resulting discussion report will draw on different and complementary skills. The expert-specialists contribute professional or special knowledge; the citizen-generalists contribute their life experiences and general insight. When they come together at the end of a project, each group’s thinking enriches the other’s.

Another important feature of the IF process is that IF panels meet “in sanctuary”, meaning panelists are guaranteed confidentially from start to finish. This way, they are not expected or obligated to assert their authority, defend a particular constituency or organization, or avoid probing questions or mistakes. They are free to think and speak openly and creatively. This also means that those who discuss IF reports are free to focus on the ideas presented rather than the personalities or backgrounds of the authors.

In other OF projects, discussion panels are free in another important sense; they make selections or decisions through a deliberative process of exploration and convergence rather than consensus or compromise. Panels can take their time exploring and developing a wide range of possibilities. Convergence occurs as panelists agree on a range of possibilities that they believe are worthy of public discussion rather than ones they personally or collectively endorse. In addition, throughout the sanctuary discussion process, any single panelist can keep alive a particular possibility simply by asking that it be preserved. This procedure helps ensure that the panels achieve their goal of developing a series of contrasting possibilities, rather than a single set of recommendations or conclusions.

If you are interested in further information about the process used to develop IF reports or IF’s work in general, we invited you to consult our website at interactivityfoundation.org

The PDF version of this report is available for download here

About the Interactivity Foundation
The Interactivity Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that works to enhance the process and expand the scope of our public discussions through facilitated small-group discussion of multiple and contrasting possibilities. The Foundation does not engage in political advocacy for itself, any other organization or group, or on behalf of any of the policy possibilities described in its discussion guidebooks. For more information, see the Foundation’s website at www.interactivityfoundation.org.

Follow on Twitter: @IFTalks.

Resource Link: www.interactivityfoundation.org/discussions/future-of-k-12-education/

Learn from Iceland’s Deliberative Constitutional Change

We want to encourage our NCDD network, especially those in California, to consider registering to attend an intriguing event this June 3 at UC Berkeley called A Congress on Iceland’s Democracy. This international gathering aims to explore new approaches to democracy inspired by the deliberative process that Iceland used to create its new constitution through a mock legislative process, and we’re sure many NCDDers would take a great deal of inspiration from participating.
You can learn more about the gathering in the invitation letter below sent to the NCDD network from our friends at Wilma’s Wish Productions, whose Blueberry Soup documentary on Iceland’s constitutional transformation we previously posted about on the blog, or learn more at www.law.berkeley.edu/iceland.


A Congress on Iceland’s Democracy

We are writing to extend an invitation to an event we believe would interest you. On June 3rd, 2017, we are hosting a citizen’s gathering at the University of California, Berkeley.

This event will translate participatory discussion into concrete action proposals by organizing as a mock legislative body to develop, debate, and decide on proposals for moving forward with Iceland’s constitutional change process. The event’s structure takes inspiration from the 2010 Icelandic National Assembly and Robert’s Rules of Order.

This powerful summit will revolve around discussions on how to address the current political and social climate in the United States, using Iceland’s constitutional reform process as an example. Iceland’s new constitution was written in perhaps the most democratic way possible and we want to model this methodology and learn how it can be applied in communities across the United States and the world. Our goal is to create a non-partisan environment that will foster new approaches to democracy and a shared vocabulary.

Many prominent political figures from Iceland will be in attendance as well as many of the authors of the new constitution. Furthermore, academics, activists, startups, and journalists from all over the United States and Europe are also coming to participate in this “Icelandic National Assembly” style event.

This gathering of citizens has piqued the interest of people from all around the globe – a mass exodus of Icelanders and Europeans are flying in just to sit at these tables because they know real change is possible through dialogic methodologies. We hope this historic gathering will shape the way Americans think about democracy with a focus on the impact that dialogue can have on the democratic process on a local as well as global scale.

This conference aims to achieve exactly what many of you have dedicated your life to – reimagining democracy and the way we converse with one another about tough issues. Your passion for dialogue and democracy in addition to your excellent facilitation skills makes me believe you would be a valuable asset to this event and an excellent voice for others to engage with.

We want a broad range of perspectives present at this event, so we invite you to register to attend this citizens gathering and participate in history as it is being made.

You can learn more about the Congress on Iceland’s Democracy at www.law.berkeley.edu/iceland.

Deepening D&D’s Impact by Connecting Politicians to Theorists through Practitioners

We recently came across an article that frames a key issue in our field so well that we had to share it. The piece is by Lucy Parry, a researcher with NCDD member org Participedia, and Wendy Russell of the Canberra Center for Deliberative Democracy, both of whom are contributors for The Policy Space blog. In it, they describe the gaps and similarities between D&D theorists and practitioners, and the power of their synergy. They propose that in order for our field to influence policy outcomes and ultimately help our democratic systems become more deliberative, we have to connect politicians and elected officials meaningfully to our field’s theoretical grounding, and that D&D practitioners might be the right bridge for that connection.
What do you think? How should D&D theorists and practitioners work together? How should they not? We encourage you to read the excerpt below from the Lucy’s great piece and read the full version here.


Bridging the Gap: why deliberative democracy needs theorists and practitioners to work together

…[O]ne of the obstacles for successful use of deliberative approaches is the challenge of bringing the normative ideals of deliberative democratic theory – what it should look like and what functions it should serve – to the reality of political decision-making contexts. This raises a potential ‘gap’ between deliberative academics and practitioners, given the constraints of translating normative theory into workable political reality….

In general, practitioners work at the coalface, adapting to political constraints and timeframes, and doing what works in these contexts. Researchers tend to stand back, describe how best practice should look, and critique attempts to achieve it. In bringing a critical eye they play an important function, but collaboration between theory and practice is clearly important…

In some ways, practitioners of deliberative democracy are uniquely placed at the interface between theory and policy worlds and can act as mediators between the two. On the one hand, they work within the constraints of policymaking, familiar with the day-to-day rigmarole. On the other, they have the most experience of real-life deliberative democracy: they see it, they do it. Practitioners know what deliberative processes can achieve, in empowering citizens and improving the quality and legitimacy of political decisions. They also know how deliberative approaches can fail.

It is arguably the case that despite the different work that theorists and practitioners do, they park their cars in the same garage; sharing a commitment to enhancing inclusiveness and public reasoning in political decision-making. What’s more, practitioners are uniquely placed to bridge a much wider gulf: between theorists and policymakers….

We encourage you to read the full original version by Lucy Parry and Wendy Russell of The Policy Space at www.thepolicyspace.com.au/2016/17/125-bridging-the-gap-why-deliberative-democracy-needs-theorists-and-practitioners-to-work-together.

Univ. of San Diego Hosts “Rebuilding Civility” Conference

If you work on political civility or live in the San Diego area, we encourage you to consider attending the Restoring Respect conference at the University of San Diego this April 18-19. The gathering convenes teachers, students, and community members to discuss civic engagement, dialogue, and other work that can help us in #BridgingOurDivides, as well as a plenary session panel moderated by long-time NCDD member Carolyn Lukensmeyer of the National Institute for Civil Discourse. We encourage you to learn more in the USD announcement below or learn more at the conference website here.


Restoring Respect – 6th Annual Conference on Restoring Civility to Civic Dialogue – “Rebuilding Civility”

The 2016 election was the most divisive and vitriolic in American history. From candidates’ personal attacks to paralysis and dysfunction in national government, the price tag of incivility, and resulting failure to reach political consensus, has never been greater.

Join other concerned members of our community in an ongoing discussion about how to restore respect to the local and national civic dialogue. Explore ways to better educate the next generation of citizens and community leaders on how to better build our American community.

The 6th annual Restoring Respect conference will be held April 18-19, 2017 at the University of San Diego’s Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. The morning and afternoon of Tuesday April 18 and the afternoon of Wednesday, April 19 will be dedicated to panel discussions, practicum demonstrations and speaker presentations. Our plenary session with keynote address and our panel of regional university leaders discussing civility, community-building and higher education will be held the morning of Wednesday, April 19.

The conference is an opportunity for high school and college educators, staff, and most particularly students to gain hands-on experience in creating effective, respectful, and equitable diaogue across their campuses and their communities. The conference offers members of all private-sector and public organziations and inidivuals engaged in civic engagment an opportunity to learn about issues affecting civil discourse today and strategies for creating more effective civic engagment from the workplace to the public space.

The goal of the conference is to continue an ongoing national dialogue on how to repair the partisan divide in American politics and civic discourse, rebuild bridges of cooperation and understanding between American political and socio-economic communities, and develop pathways to more effective policy-making at the local, regional, state, and national levels.

You can find more info about this University of San Diego event at the conference website at www.sandiego.edu/cas/institute-for-civil-civic-engagement/restoring-respect.

Participate in DC-Area Moderator Training for Higher Ed

We encourage our DC-area NCDD members in higher ed – students, faculty, and staff – to consider attending a training for deliberative dialogue moderators this April 29. The training is hosted by the American Democracy ProjectThe Democracy Commitment and the Kettering Foundation in preparation for the 2017 Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement meeting on June 9 in Baltimore, which we also encourage our NCDD higher ed folks to attend. You can read more in ADP’s announcement below or find the original version here.


Deliberative Dialogue Moderator Training Workshop in Washington, DC

AASCU’s American Democracy Project and The Democracy Commitment, in partnership with the Kettering Foundation, are proud to announce a special professional development opportunity for area students, faculty, and staff interested in a moderator training for deliberative dialogues.

We will be hosting a Deliberative Dialogue Moderator Training Workshop on Saturday, April 29, 2017, from 10am – 2pm at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), 1307 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005.

Hosts:

  • Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, American Democracy Project National Manager, AASCU
  • Verdis LeVar Robinson, National Director, The Democracy Commitment

Trainers:

  • John R. Dedrick, Vice President and Program Director, Kettering Foundation
  • Kara Lindaman, Professor of Political Science/Public Administration, Winona State University (Minn.)
  • William Muse, President Emeritus, National Issues Forum Institute
  • John J. Theis, Director of the Center For Civic Engagement, Lone Star College (TX)

Democratic dialogue and deliberation build civic capacities and consciences to tackle the highly salient and most complex wicked problems facing communities today. It rejects the expert model of technical expertise and specialization towards a truly democratic framework of accessibility and empowerment.

The practice of dialogue and deliberation cultivates student abilities necessary to explore enduring and multidisciplinary questions and solve persistent public problems. Thus, the capacities necessary for productive and meaningful dialogue and deliberation – critical thinking, empathic listening, creative problem solving, ethical leadership, collaboration, issue framing – are not only essential for sustaining a vibrant democracy, they are the best preparation for our students/citizens/graduates to be successful in the 21st century.

This training will guarantee your eligibility to be a moderator at our 2017 Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) meeting’s Dialogue and Deliberation Plenary Session: ” Safety and Justice: How Should Communities Reduce Violence?” on Friday, June 9, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Please join us for this free training by registering HERE by Friday, March 31, 2017.  Lunch will be provided. Click here for the tentative agenda.

For questions and more information, please contact Verdis L. Robinson at robinsonv@aascu.org or (202) 476-4656.

You can find the original version of this announcement from The Democracy Committment at www.thedemocracycommitment.org/deliberative-dialogue-moderator-training-workshop-washington-dc.

Equity in School Forums: An Interview with John Landesman

The 14-page article, Equity in School Forums: An Interview with John Landesman (2016)was written by Carolyne Abdullah, Christopher Karpowitz, and Chad Raphael, and published in the Journal of Public Deliberation: Vol. 12: Iss. 2. In the article, the authors interview Landesman of Everyday Democracy to share his experience working to address the barriers within the Montgomery County Study Circles Program, which he helped to coordinate. Landesman clarifies the importance between equality and equity; and how these play out when designing a process to effective address the power dynamics that arise within school spaces between admin, faculty, parents, and students.

Read an excerpt of the article below and find the PDF available for download on the Journal of Public Deliberation site here.

From the article…

For adults and youth, American public schools are a major entryway to public engagement. Not only are public schools charged with preparing students for civic life, but they are the custodians of parents’ educational and economic aspirations for their children, often the largest recipients of taxpayer funding in a community, neighborhood hubs that host public meetings and events, and institutions that are formally accountable to the community through school boards, parent teacher associations, and other public forums. Schools need active support from their communities to approve school bonds, attract donations, enlist mentors and volunteers, approve (or at least accept) curriculum reforms, engage parents in supporting their children’s learning, and address social problems such as academic achievement gaps among students of different racial and income backgrounds, bullying, and gangs. Yet, like other institutions of democracy, public school governance is often dominated by the voices of politicians and policy makers, professionals (administrators and teachers), and privileged citizens (parents of higher socio-economic status) (Nabatchi & Leighninger, 2015).

In Maryland, the Montgomery County Public School system offers a hopeful example of how public dialogue can improve school governance. John Landesman, a Senior Associate at Everyday Democracy, coordinates the Montgomery County Public Schools Study Circles Program. The program engages parents, students, staff, and administrators in dialogue to address racial and ethnic barriers to parent involvement and student achievement in this multilingual, multi-ethnic school district. These dialogues have helped to build trust and collaboration, and increased involvement by parents of color, as well diminishing differences in achievement among students from more and less advantaged backgrounds (Childress, Doyle, and Thomas, 2009; Orland, 2007; Fagotto & Fung, 2009).

In this interview, Landesman explains how Everyday Democracy thinks about equity and equality, and how the organization integrated equity considerations throughout the process of organizing study-circle dialogues in Montgomery County, including recruiting and retaining diverse participants, forming agendas, facilitation, small group discussions in affinity groups of less-powerful participants as well as mixed groups, evaluation, and implementation of plans. The techniques discussed here can be adopted or adapted to forums on schooling and many other issues.

Equity and Equality
Abdullah, Karpowitz, and Raphael (AKR): Some people working in dialogue and deliberation have argued that instead of practicing equality by treating people 1 Abdullah et al.: Equity in School Forums: An Interview with John Landesman similarly, we should strive for equity by treating participants differently in order to create conditions that achieve fair discussion and decisions. Do you see this distinction between equal and equitable treatment as useful to our field and in your own work?

Landesman: I do see a distinction. There’s a picture that we often use in our presentations of three boys trying to look over a fence at a baseball game (see Figure 1). In the first panel, which shows equal treatment, each boy is standing on a box that is the same height. The tall boy can see the game over the fence, the middle boy can barely see, and the shortest boy can’t see at all. In the next panel, which shows equity, the tall boy’s box has been given to the little boy, so now all three of them can see the game. The idea is that everyone needs something different to participate in whatever they’re doing. But to me, this feels like the wrong question. The question should be, “What is the goal of the dialogue, and who needs to be in the room to make the dialogue effective?” If the goal is to have a variety of perspectives deliberating together, then organizers need to think about how to recruit for those different perspectives. If there are people who need something different to be part of it, but having their voice will make the deliberation more effective, then organizers have to use different strategies to get them there.

Think of successful companies like Coca-Cola. Their goal is to sell more of their products. They don’t just develop their product and then say, “OK everyone, come get it.” They spend a lot of time and resources thinking about how to get different kinds of people to buy their products. If the goal of deliberation is to have a richer understanding of an issue based on all the different perspectives that are in the community, than we need to spend time thinking about how to ensure that we get all those perspectives in the room.

In my experience, organizing for diverse perspectives is often an afterthought. Organizers plan the way they always have, and then say, “How do we get Latino participants or low-income folks, or people who have different political perspectives?” That never works, because all we’re doing is adding an extra strategy to what’s already been put in place. Successful organizing starts by asking, “What is the goal of the dialogue, and who needs to be in the room to reach that goal?” Then every piece of the organizing—whether it’s the outreach, the facilitation, the setup once you get there, where it’s located—all of those things are driven by who you want in the room and what perspectives you need to hear to make your dialogue effective. That’s a very different way of looking at it than saying, “We’re going to do it the way we’ve always done it, and now we’re going to develop a strategy to get to these so-called marginalized people.”

This is an excerpt of the article, which can be downloaded in full from the Journal of Public Deliberation here.

About the Journal of Public Deliberation
Journal of Public DeliberationSpearheaded by the Deliberative Democracy Consortium in collaboration with the International Association of Public Participation, the principal objective of Journal of Public Deliberation (JPD) is to synthesize the research, opinion, projects, experiments and experiences of academics and practitioners in the emerging multi-disciplinary field and political movement called by some “deliberative democracy.” By doing this, we hope to help improve future research endeavors in this field and aid in the transformation of modern representative democracy into a more citizen friendly form.

Follow the Deliberative Democracy Consortium on Twitter: @delibdem

Follow the International Association of Public Participation [US] on Twitter: @IAP2USA

Resource Link: www.publicdeliberation.net/jpd/vol12/iss2/art12/

New Kettering Publication on Engagement & Higher Ed

We want to encourage our members in higher education to check out the newest version of the Higher Education Exchange, a free annual publication from NCDD member organization the Kettering Foundation. The Exchange explores important and timely themes around the public mission of colleges and universities and offers reflections from both domestic and international scholar-practitioners on how higher education can and must shift toward teaching deliberation and civic engagement. We highly recommend it. You can learn more about the 2016 edition in the Kettering announcement below or find the full downloadable version here.


Higher Education Exchange 2016

This annual publication serves as a forum for new ideas and dialogue between scholars and the larger public. Essays explore ways that students, administrators, and faculty can initiate and sustain an ongoing conversation about the public life they share.

The Higher Education Exchange is founded on a thought articulated by Thomas Jefferson in 1820: “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.”

In the tradition of Jefferson, the Higher Education Exchange agrees that a central goal of higher education is to help make democracy possible by preparing citizens for public life. The Higher Education Exchange is part of a movement to strengthen higher education’s democratic mission and foster a more democratic culture throughout American society.

Working in this tradition, the Higher Education Exchange publishes interviews, case studies, analyses, news, and ideas about efforts within higher education to develop more democratic societies. The Exchange is edited by David W. Brown and Deborah Witte.

  • Foreword by Deborah Witte  (PDF)
  • Inside the Graduate School Mess: An Interview by Leonard Cassuto  (PDF)
  • Assumptions, Variables, and Ignorance by David Brown  (PDF)
  • Deliberation and Institutional Political Cultures: A Brazilian Perspective by Telma Gimenez  (PDF)
  • An Island of Deliberation in an Authoritarian Environment: The Case of Russia by Denis V. Makarov  (PDF)
  • Publicly Engaged Scholars: Next-Generation Engagement and the Future of Higher Education, Edited by Margaret A. Post, Elaine Ward, Nicholas V. Longo, and John Saltmarsh by Etana Jacobi  (PDF)
  • Afterword: Citizens in a Global Society by David Mathews  (PDF)

You can find the original announcement of this Kettering Foundation publication at www.kettering.org/catalog/product/hex-2016.

Leading Organizational and Community Change

We are happy to share the announcement below about a series of D&D skills trainings being offered at Humboldt State University this year. NCDD Supporting Member Mary Gelinas shared the announcement below via our great Submit-to-Blog Form. Do you have news you want to share with the NCDD network? Just click here to submit your news post for the NCDD Blog!


If you are an elected official, community leader, manager, planner, consultant or facilitator who wants to be even more effective than you already are, these workshops are for you.

The Leading Organizational & Community Change program is a transformative professional development program focused on creating collaboration at work and in your communities. Offered through the College of eLearning and Extended Education at Humboldt State University in Northern California, this program offers courses designed to help organizational managers, community leaders, public officials, city managers, planners, facilitators, and consultants to be more effective in getting things done and creating sustainable change at work, in communities, and in municipalities.

Grounded in the behavioral sciences and brain science, along with effective and innovative process skills and approaches, the curriculum is designed to build your knowledge and develop your skills so you can work more constructively and productively with colleagues, constituents, neighbors, and clients to solve problems, resolve conflicts, build lasting agreements, develop public policy, and plan for the future.

The courses still available in 2017 include:

Consulting  Skills: Bringing Our Authentic Selves Forward
Feb. 15-17, 2017

Increase your ability to have a strong and positive impact on your client’s results as a staff person or external consultant or facilitator by applying the eight keys to effective consulting and using the phases of the consulting process. Learn how to establish and maintain effective partnerships with clients and have your expertise and experience more fully utilized.

Graphic Recording
March 16, 2017

Increase your ability to serve meeting participants by writing and drawing their conversation live and large to help them do their work. Graphic Recording is a powerful tool to help people feel heard, develop shared understandings and be able to see their work in real-time.

Effective Meetings: The Key to Getting Things Done
May 11-12, 2017

Effective meetings are the building blocks of creating sustainable change. Learn key elements to build collaboration in meetings in order to get stuff done. Acquire tools to plan and conduct meetings, get and stay focused, and handle difficult behaviors.

Advanced Meeting Leadership for High-Stakes Meetings
August 16-18, 2017

Learn and practice strategies and techniques to design and facilitate high-stakes meetings with complex power and group dynamics. Become more adept at engaging diverse stakeholders in constructive and productive interactions. Practice using your internal state of being, body language, pace and tone to help meetings state on track and move forward.

Designing Multi-Stakeholder Collaborative Change Processes
Oct. 25-27, 2017

Develop the ability to design collaborative and inclusive multi-stakeholder processes to solve complex problems, resolve conflicts, develop a vision, craft a policy, or create change.  Learn how various change models can help you plan processes and engage multiple stakeholders in various ways. Understand the key differences between designing change processes for organizations and communities.

For more information, visit www2.humboldt.edu/locc.