Our conversation began with the observation that our children need the community around them to become energized to make the demands needed to move our public education system to one that is life enhancing and equitable. We questioned whether there is a public will to do that work collectively.We contemplated ways that could bring people together to gain more information.
It was observed that most average citizens don't really know what is happening across their own communities or in various populations in the United States. If they did know, could there be a concerted effort to care about it in the same way as there is in, for example, catastrophic weather disasters.
We agreed that the target for messaging should be the average citizen. We discussed that the messages of the past that have been used for social or for economic change will no longer work. The message would need to be one that is visual - a stunning visual. We also discussed that if the visual is an extremely negative one then we are sending our children a dismal picture that could be self-fulfilling. The visual message should be one in which there is a vision of hope for a better public educational system. It should be compelling but not destructive in theme. We also discussed that in some ways the American Dream is now a broken promise to the next generation. This generation will find obtaining an education not a guarantee of a successful future in America in the same way as hoped for in the past. This is the first generation that may not have the quality of life as before. Outcome-based education has produced a very narrow experience and forced educators to be prescriptive. Relationship and trust with teachers are the building blocks upon which learning rests and there is little time for that in our current classrooms as teachers have experienced across the country.
The message should be able to be viewed on cell phones as the key means of mass communication.
A book by David Matthews, "Is There a Public in Public Education?", is recommended. It is supported by the Kettering Foundation.
We discussed the American ideas held in a balance in a democracy as individualism and communitarianism. This is a fabric of being a human being as well; it is in our DNA to want to be differentiated and also want to belong among others. America holds and relects, as a society, this characteristic of our species. But the balance is easily swayed and gets out of balance. It swings back and forth and is now in an extreme polarity in the country. This affects, for one thing, equity and justice.
Our next steps are to reach the average American by creating a toolkit of messages that call people to action locally to desire and demand a public education system that remakes the future for our children.