Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bonanza Column 170 – IB and the Community

Sometimes I don't understand our community at all – other times I think I get a glimmer or understanding, but mostly it's a mystery to me.

It seems like we are willing to fight about anything based solely on our opinions, the opinions don't need to be informed by any facts, and we don't feel very much need to listen to each other. Granted it's hard to listen when the communication is like this one: "Why don't you post constitution Progressives go find your own country and quit wrecking ours?"

Apparently I'm something called a post constitution (I assume this means post-Constitution rather than someone with the constitution of a post, but I'm not sure) Progressive. OK. I don't understand post-Constitution – we're all post-Constitution. That document was adopted in 1789, so anyone who was pre-Constitution would be 221 years old. Progressive? Why do people think I'll be insulted by being called something (along with Liberal, leftist, etc.) that I've said I'm proud to be. And what is the name-caller? Regressive?

Finally, why should I go find my own country, and who said this one was yours? I was born here, my parents immigrated here, and I honestly believe that this is my country as much as it is "yours." Actually, the Constitution kind of guarantees that, doesn't it?

Or the person who picked up on one small piece of personal disclosure in a column and decided that "because your Dad lost his business due to "change" you think workforce housing will solve the economic woes of main street???" which is nothing even related to what I said.

Case in point: the IB program. I have said repeatedly that, while I'm kind of naturally inclined to support it, I have serious questions and think a rational, fact-based dialogue is needed. Writers (mostly anonymous) online have attacked me for favoring IB (what part of "have serious questions" is not clear to you?). Just for fun, how about trying listening?

The Washoe County School District is on record favoring IB even though they won't fund it. In listening to both sides of the debate, a couple of things have become clear to me. First, very little of the debate is fact-based. Either or both sides may have facts to bolster their argument (note:" IT'S A U.N. PLOT!!! Is not a fact – it's an opinion, same for" IT WILL ATTRACT LOTS OF STUDENTS!!!"), neither brings them to bear in what dialogue there has been. Second, no one is listening to anyone who is not on their side. Third, a genuine dialogue, including people listening to each other, is desperately needed.

As I mentioned in a previous column and as was announced in the paper last week, the Bonanza has proposed to sponsor a forum for that dialogue. The ground rules of the forum will be that all presentations by panelists must be based on citable facts and that audience questions will be screened to ensure that they are requests for information, not arguments for a position. The original date for the forum, February 9th, is now in question due to conflicts we were unaware of, but if we can get the panelists, it will happen sooner rather than later.

I guess the question is what do both sides want? Do they want to defeat the other side or to inform the community? The way it looks now is that we are going to have IB in any case – the School District has approved it and the money has been raised or is close to being raised. So as a community, do we want this to be one more bone of contention dividing us or do we want to really look at what it could do and what it is that professional educators find so valuable in it?

Of course, we can all decide that we know better than the experts in any case and don't have to listen to them – after all, we pay them to educate our children – that means we're smarter than they are, right? After all, isn't the golden rule "he who has the gold, rules?"

Let's try to have an informative, civil dialogue. Whaddaya say?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I say why do they never tell us it's a program created by and pushing the goals of the UN? A little honestly is all we want. They conveniently leave that out of all presentations. Parents do not know their kids tests will be sent to Geneva to be graded or that this program is hyped by its promoters as elitist and prestigious even before it had any sort of track record in this country.

Why would anyone invite the UN, made up of mostly communist countries and tin pot dictatorships, to do ANYTHING in our schools in the USA? It's a scandal at best.

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