Is There Common Ground? There’s A Report At Least…

Today Bellwether released a stocktaking analysis on a few key issues in the education sector – enrollment, achievement, guns, discipline, LGBT rights, and curriculum. You know, the non-controversial stuff. It’s the first of a regular series but they won’t all be on these issues.

Across the range of issues we look at today, a few trends stand out.

Implementation. There is a sadly predictable arc in education. Good idea gets picked up widely, implemented with little fidelity to whatever made it effective in the first place, idea gets discredited. We seem to be seeing that in several of our current hot house debates. On school discipline poor implementation of discipline reforms, in some cases seriously poor implementation that creates safety issues, is calling that project into question. And exclusionary discipline seems to be on the rise again.

On DEI work the rapid uptake has led to widespread quality control problems on top of underlying questions about what’s the best way create more diverse and inclusive organizations.

And on some hot button curriculum and culture war issues it’s freelancing by teachers garnering the headlines because teachers aren’t getting the support they need to be successful.

Common Ground. The title of the report is “Common Ground” because there is more common ground on many of these issues than you’d know listening to the loudest voices and professional conflict entrepreneurs. On a range of issues people agree more than you’d think. And sometimes more than they would think.

But it’s not all common ground – and public schools are the societal common ground where many of these issues get hashed out – now and historically. When you look at the polarization on some issues as well as societal problems. for instance gun violence – it’s not surprising we see these issues show up in one of our last common institutions – the public schools.

Our goal with this work isn’t to tell you what to think. Or to suggest that you should take your views from what a majority thinks about any given issue. You do you, please. We need more of that. Instead, like other similar work from Bellwether the goal is to share a view of the landscape to hopefully inform debate and conversation grounded in facts not narratives.

Rather than belabor it here, go read the deck yourself, it’s a lot of content across some important issues.

You can read Common Ground here.