Following a link the other day on Twitter from John Hagel, I was inspired by an article by Andrew Romano on The Daily Beast about a unique collaboration on the issue of criminal justice between unlikely compatriots. Aptly entitled Liberal Academic, Tea Party Leader Rethinking Crime Policy, the article tells how common ground between liberal and conservative perspectives was found, centered on pragmatic outcomes versus ideological debates.
At the center of this story is the “liberal academic,” David Kennedy, a criminologist who has researched a method of crime reduction that moves beyond the ineffective and expensive–not to mention dehumanizing–criminalization wrought by the War on Drugs, and a “Tea Party leader,” Mark Meckler, who Romano paints as ready to move on from the shallow political debates engendered by the Tea Party.
When he had discovered Kennedy’s methods, “Meckler was energized. This was exactly the sort of second act he had in mind—a proven, nonideological way to remove ‘the heavy hand of the state,’ he tells Newsweek, ‘and give these communities the freedom to govern themselves.'” . . .
“On the right, we always talk about self-governance,” Meckler explains. “So I thought, why haven’t we been applying those ideas to the criminal-justice system?” . . .
Kennedy’s program didn’t hew to liberal orthodoxy, placing the blame on society rather than the criminals themselves. Nor did it reflect conservative dogma. It just worked.” [Bold added]
There seems to be two points of convergence between liberal and conservative perspectives presented here:*
- The idea of minimizing top down control with a goal towards community self-governance, and a restoration of human dignity
- A focus on a methodology demonstrated to be effective
I believe these two points have great bearing on the “ed reform” debate, as all too often ideology seems to cloud our better judgement and prevent meaningful collaboration from occurring.
Here’s how I’d like to incorporate these two potential bridges between liberal and conservative on Schools as Ecosystems:
My goal in developing the perspective of the school as an ecosystem is to promote sustainable and resilient learning communities. This goal can serve as a potential bridge for those interested in the goal of self-governing communities, whether left or right.
My goal in further developing the framework of a school as an ecosystem is to create a methodology that can lead to the design of healthier, more effective school environments that promote student well-being and meaningful learning. In other words, I’m less interested in debating vouchers or LIFO, and more interested in developing metrics for evaluating and designing positive school cultures. In short: I want something that works.
Ultimately, I conceive of ideology as a form of intellectual laziness. Cheap points for pundits and politicians. And I expect my readers to help keep me honest and let me know when I slip.
*. [Yes, I know I’m way over simplifying the political continuum, so feel free to correct me in the comments]↩