Developing a Shared Vision in States & Communities
In 2018, we are looking forward to working with state, local and community leaders to facilitate a new kind of conversation aimed at transcending the divides, focusing on common sense, common ground shifts in K-12 education that put opportunities for all kids at the forefront. Rather than focusing first on specific policy or system levers of change, the intent of this work is to bring the conversations out of the weeds and begin a 30,000-foot view conversation aimed at finding common ground. These conversations are aimed at the development of a shared vision for public education, including the roles of state and local leaders, and a roadmap for current and future leaders highlighting the areas of agreement and those for further exploration. Similar efforts can be undertaken around specific policy or system areas to create a shared vision and broad support of the fundamental role of state officials, local leaders, and communities in each aspect of education.
Systems and policies that affect how a state approaches its role in public education — and therefore opportunities available to kids in school and when they graduate — are often very personal issues that can become emotional or contentious when communities and stakeholders do not feel that their voices are heard. Our “Vision for Public Education” convenings and workgroups are tailored to each state’s unique context. They also are designed to maximize the diversity of voices at the table. Central to these discussions is our belief that across urban, suburban, and rural schools, beyond labels and partisan boundaries are education policies and systems that can serve all kids.
Vision and Education Priorities convenings help state leaders and stakeholders find common ground, develop shared priorities and identify areas for further exploration. Through this process, we help separate agreement or disagreement on specific solutions from the understanding of the challenge or problem. These perception-sharing and consensus-building initiatives can help leaders “pull up” to engage stakeholders and communities on big picture questions like:
- What do we believe are the most important challenges in our state in ensuring every child has access to a great education?
- What is the appropriate role of the state and of local leaders in making decisions about the education children receive and how that education is delivered?
Convenings and conversations can also advance work and broader investment in specific aspects of education ranging from school improvement strategies, the structure and regulation of the teaching profession to school choice, accountability systems and academic course offerings. In each situation, we empower stakeholders to have robust, respectful conversations through thoughtful planning and facilitation of each session and by providing participants with a diverse body of third party research addressing the issue(s) from different perspectives. Where appropriate, we also identify experts to present and engage in discussions with participants.
Whether exploring the broad topic of a state’s vision for public education or a more narrow topic like the role of the state ensuring every student has access to great teaching or who should be allowed to be a teacher, answers to questions may not be unanimous at either the macro or micro levels. The discussions are intended to identify where there is agreement, where there are differences and, through the conversations themselves, where there are shared values even if not agreement on specific solutions or approaches.