Thursday, April 19, 2012

More calls for civility

Here's an interesting trend: calls for civility in the discussion of education issues in Seattle.

They are coming from a variety of sources.
Here's one from Alison Krupnick that I read in Crosscut. Yeah, Crosscut, where the editor referred to the two newly elected board members as "insurgents" and refuse to interview them as candidates.
Here's one from Robin Lake of the Center for Reinventing Public Education that appeared on the EdWeek blog.
Here's one from me on this blog in August of 2010.

And, as usual, there are a lot of Ed Reform organizations re-posting the articles on their blogs. They re-post from each other and the Seattle Times a lot.

What I really like about the first two is that they are calling to Education Reform organizations to be more civil even more than they are calling on folks on this blog to tone it down. Actually, not only are our posts more informative, less biased, and more civil than you typically see on Education Reform blogs, but our comments, as rough as they are, do not compare to the scathing flames that are typical on the Seattle Times.

So I'm happy that other folks are taking an interest in toning down the confrontational rhetoric. That's one more middle ground that we can share.

11 comments:

Michael H said...

"...less biased"

THAT is hilarious!

Anonymous said...

I'm all for "civility" but for a lot of people that is synonymous with dancing around the truth. Civil confrontation with facts and the demand for facts brings better results. But people can't seem to do that anymore.

n...

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, what makes you think they're speaking to us?

The Crosscut article is funny because she uses a lot of adjectives to describe people and then calls it name-calling.

But her suggestions are good and I think everyone should read them and take them to heart.

But N is right; people mistake blunt truths for incivility and they are wrong.

Jan said...

A lecture on civility is always a good thing -- and is always something I can work on. But I too agree with n. And moreover -- I think that sometimes the issue is NOT that people cannot tell the difference between plain, unvarnished truth and incivility. They can tell the difference quite well. The problem is that the positions they are espousing are disingenuous at best (there, how's THAT for civil). Some of them may know they are being disingenuous. Others may not have seen the weakness of their position. But in either case, having someone expose them by speaking the truth is inconvenient and uncomfortable. So they claim "incivility" to cover up the exposure and change the subject.
But this is never an excuse to be uncivil, particularly since having indefensible or not-well-thought-out positions exposed can, and does, happen to all of us. When it does, it is ever so much easier when the errors are pointed out civilly.

Charlie Mas said...

I don't think civility means that you have to dodge uncomfortable truths, nor does it mean that you can't make forceful statements.

It does mean that you don't refer to the people who disagree with you as "insurgents".

It does mean that you don't try to shout them down, or claim that they don't care about children.

It does mean that you don't automatically oppose everything they say and do because you disagree with other things that they say or do.

You can ask them about their position and ask them to explain the parts that don't work for you. Ask them to reconcile the inconsistencies.

When folks wanted to bring Teach for America to Seattle, it was contrary to the stated strategy. The strategy was to bring our most expert and experienced teachers to our most challenging schools and reduce the turnover. Since Teach for American would do exactly the opposite, I asked them to explain the 180 degree reversal of strategy.

It was a sharp, forceful question, but it was also civil and courteous.

Of course, no one would answer it.

And that's where the call for civility breaks down. People say that I would be more effective if I were kinder, but I've tried being kinder and I didn't get any better results. Being sharp and sarcastic isn't any more effective, but it does provide me with some catharsis and it's entertaining. So when I total up the score, sarcasm wins.

I would be kinder if being kind actually were more effective, but it isn't.

Anonymous said...

And now for our morning dose of irony...

First, quoted from the Crosscut article "Less insult, more discourse..."

“The mud-flinging is hard,” says Kristin Bailey-Fogarty, a Seattle public school teacher who has been outspoken in her support of education reform and the A+ Washington initiative and, as a result, has sometimes been viciously attacked in the blogosphere. "I've found the best strategy is to assume your attackers care as much about an issue as you do," she says. "People come out of the gate in attack mode, but eventually they can come to a place of reason."

And now from Ms. Bailey-Fogarty's response to Melissa Westbrook's comment on "Why I Like A+ Washington"...

"Are we stupid? Are we so stubborn and paranoid we can't learn from others? I would hope not. We are complete fools if we do not examine successful schools in an effort to learn from them. I would hope we're not fools.
If you're going to load every verb up with your own fears and negative expectations, you're going to hate everything."

Hmmm.

Oompah

StopTFA said...

I plead guilty to incivility, if it means I call a spade a spade. I'm not proud of this, but what to do? Yes, I accused Enfield of telling lies about TFA fees, and I listed them out for all to see. I know this was a topic of discussion at JSCEE, and probably bugged the crap out of Enfield. What! Question her integrity!? I'm sure she felt disrespected. Well then, she joined the club of the community she dissed. If she was angry, it should have been at her puppetmasters who wanted to remain secret.

Now a nicer person (like Melissa) would have muttered "nonsense" at Enfield's lies, then apologized. I'm not a nice person. See, I'm even uncivil to myself. Maybe I need therapy.

NESeattleMom said...

Did anyone read Jerry Large's article in the Seattle Times yesterday? The title is How we let our kids slip through the cracks. It is about how a skilled teacher has huge challenges trying to help middle schoolers catch up from not having learned basic skills in K - 3.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/jerrylarge/2018015668_jdl19.html

Disgusted said...

" people mistake blunt truths for incivility and they are wrong."

Yup.

StopTFA said...

Disgusted,

It is one thing to say someone is wrong, or that what someone has said is untrue, even a lie. It is something else to call someone a liar, stupid or a fool. Of course I've done all of those things, but I am not holier than thou.

Anonymous said...

"In a sluggish economy, never f*^k with another man's livelihood." - Guido the Killer Pimp, Risky Business

I think it's a load of hogwash for someone sticking a knife into another's ribs, as many Ed Reformers do daily, to then complain about "incivility" when people loudly object.

Many Ed Reform campaigns are patently deceptive, disingenuous, manipulative and deceitful, and I will not treat any person engaged in such "uncivil" activities with kid gloves.

Ed Reformers: You get what you give.

WSDWG

P.S. Keep following the money. It's ultimately all about that, not kids.