October 10, 2013
Friends … Neighbors….Culver Citizens. Today, the future of our schools stands on the edge of a precipice.
Not because of any budget crisis – we’ve shown that we can be resourceful, creative, determined and tireless in finding ways to adapt and maintain the quality of our schools. Not for lack of dynamic leadership – parents and other community members are as involved as ever, and our administrative team is as strong as it’s been in years.
The danger is of our own making. We’ve allowed scores of people of good will; who at the core agree deeply about what we want for our schools, students and community; to build encampments on opposite sides of a growing divide, making it increasingly difficult for them to interact respectfully and with civility.
This danger rears its head during a heated campaign for school board seats, and a debate over the best ways to secure funding to repair and upgrade our schools. But it feels like it’s been festering for years.
It’s present in our sometimes condescending attitude toward those who thoughtfully, and based on the same information, reach conclusions that differ from our own.
It’s in our failure to take notice and speak up when others unfairly disparage individuals who care as deeply about the schools as we all do.
It’s in the way we brush off and attempt to diminish those who ask important and helpful questions that may not be so helpful to our pre-conceived notion of how everything should play out.
Somehow, way too many of our conversations have become about “Us vs. Them”.
It’s just politics, you might say. It’s not personal. But in a community as small and intertwined as ours, it can’t help but become personal.
Silently, it eats away at us and our ability to respect differences of approach. It erodes our ability to reach consensus that makes us all stronger.
And in the long run it threatens our ability to work together, with respect and civility, doing the heavy lifting required to keep our schools great.
So let’s stop the finger pointing and name calling. And let’s stop the whispering. Let’s become better listeners and better consensus builders.
Let’s all take a big step back from the edge, so that no matter what the future brings, we can leap forward together.