Education bigfeet Deborah Meier and Diane Ravitch have been at odds on school-related issues over the last thirty years. But when they recently met over lunch to prepare for a debate about No Child Left Behind, both were surprised by how much common ground they shared. While their solutions to disparate problems often differ, both recognize the seriousness of the same problems and the earnestness of the other side's arguments. What's more, both are able to acknowledge the flaws in their individual solutions and to identify the tradeoffs that must be made. They write, "Our differences helped us consider ways to rethink our ideas and find places where those holding different views might compromise, and perhaps learn to live under one umbrella. What we hope to model is the idea of democratic engagement, the notion that citizens need to think about and debate their beliefs and values with others who do not necessarily share all of them." In our age of American Idol episodes garnering more votes than American presidential elections, our young people would do well to take Meier and Ravitch's words to heart. So might you.
"Bridging Differences," by Deborah Meier and Diane Ravitch, Education Week, May 24, 2006 (subscription required)