Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Watching Chaos

I admit my attention span is short and I'm tired of hearing or using the word Occupy.  But I don't tire as easily when discussing or informing my views on education.  It is in this context that the following video becomes relevant.  Imagine if you will entering a classroom where the teacher is disengaged, irrelevant and unresponsive to student needs.  Then compare that to what occurred at a Panel for Educational Policy(PEP) meeting in New York recently.

Is what we are watching a response by a public that sees leaders as disengaged, irrelevant and unresponsive?   Has education reform become too reliant on Top Down decisions in pursuit of desired outcomes?  How are these top down decisions being perceived by stakeholders?     Are the few creating a process that ignores the voices of many that could affect lasting and positive change?    Will this closed process engender support or further alienate decision makers?   Is this approach consistent with the ideals of democracy?  Shouldn't we expect more from our leaders?  

Love to hear some comments after watching.


  1. This video is pretty incredible. I find myself rooting for the parents at first, but as the video progresses it's clear this is quickly becoming a "lose-lose" situation. No one is listening. I doubt the parents would have such a strong reaction if they'd been listened to, but you also have to wonder how much effort they've put into being a part of the decision-making process. Either way, they're simply fighting their "enemy" with the same tactics-- finding whatever power you have and using it to gain control.

    Maybe that's the root of the problem, control, and in our current economic and political state, when everything seems to be beyond our control people are grabbing it by any means necessary. Whether tightening control at the top or leveraging economic resources or by collectively standing in the way of public process.

    Saddest point-- the end when the group is walking away chanting 'what does democracy look like-- this is what democracy looks like.' I certainly didn't grow up learning that democracy looked like the "suit and tie crowd" dictating policy, but I don't think a mass of people shouting loud enough to drown out every other voice in the vicinity is democracy either. Revolution, maybe. Democracy, not yet.

  2. Obviously a lot of parallels between this, that and the other thing not to mention all that other stuff that happened here there and everywhere. But you specifically mention democracy and revolution. So I'll go far afield. As a disclaimer remember what spawned this discussion. Not quite a revolution. I have on occasion enjoyed a good discussion about the American Revolution and differing views about it, then and now. Interesting to discuss such an event through the lens of how they are remembered historically.

    So what was the Am Rev besides a war between two sides? An armed argument? Looking back from today's inclusive historical approach it could be said it didn't significantly transform life for most of the people who lived here. Meaning life was pretty much the same before and after the event for a large portion of the people. It was after all a movement mostly of the upper white wealthy and angry. But I just can't agree it wasn't a huge change. Especially since I was taught that. It did trade a set of distant foreign rulers from Britain for a set of rulers here. A reinvention with local government that was in theory much more responsive to the populous, or at least the ones that mattered. More importantly for us the ideas seeded in the Revolution would grow and later produce monumental changes here and elsewhere. Waves of new republics and the promotion of individual worth and rights have proven one noteworthy shift. But another thing to remember is that our great founders potentially were a bit wary of true democracy. I think we pledge allegiance to the republic each day...not the democracy. And don't forget the new gov't did not quite live up to the promise of the language of its authors. But it was a start...a risky one too. They didn't really invent these ideas just tried to put them into practice. And do not forget that there were no guarantees once hostilities ceased.

    I think people can live without control, at least when the grass is green. But not a sense that they have no say. Perhaps current lack of civil discourse(like when you are labeled an elitist) reveals we are in the midst of a similar period where many feel too distant from decisions and no real ability to impact them. Such eras seem to facilitate either an appropriate social/governmental responsive or bring about major change(aka a revolution or even the Arab Spring). A case could be made the American Revolutionary "war" was only for Independence was at the time merely a small piece of the British Empire saying enough is enough and only succeeded because of distance and the British were already too busy. It ultimately didn't bring about all the stuff America has come to symbolize. Or did it work because people had conviction to its ideals? Worth arguing both ways. Fun to examine but who cares really. It only matters to us in the context of the here and now. Not as much fun was watching people shout at each other at a meeting that affects our schools.

    What was truly democratic about the American Rev was the idea that it was the people that should hold the power, not the gov't. Maybe that expression echoes even still today when people get upset about things in all sorts of places. Even some frustrated folks at a meeting in NYC.

    What would a Youtube video of the American Revolution have looked like or made us feel like? Glad we'll never know and we simply get the benefit of where it eventually led us. I struggled with what to call that post. The word chaos just seemed to fit. Maybe this sort of stuff will lead us somewhere...maybe not. One think can make a huge difference now as then is just that, quality leadership. Maybe a topic for the future?