Many parent advocates, like me, got into school funding advocacy thinking that what we needed to do was make reasonable arguments to reasonable people. Support for local public schools didn’t have to be a partisan issue, and people of good will could come together to support quality, community-governed, public education. And I still think that could be true.
But, right now, it’s not. Over the last ten years, the debate over public education in Michigan has gone from frustrating to absurd. Uncompromising, unyielding adherence to ideology and narrow beliefs has opened up a chasm in the public debate over our community schools. As the current presidential campaign season shows, it’s not even about strictly partisan politics: the divides inside each party seem just as big as those which separate them. Nor is it a reasoned debate over the mechanics of policy. But it is a political debate – one that touches on our core values and which will shape our schools for years to come.
And, as with any important political debate, the outcome will hinge on who is in a position to decide – who holds political office. Who do we have acting in our name? Do they reflect what we believe? So, that is where we need to begin. (more…)