Task Forces Need Community Expertise & Open Debate

I delivered the following statement to the MMSD Long Range Planning Committee on July 11:

Back on October 18, 2004, I spoke to the Long Range Planning Committee at a meeting at Leopold School. I suggested that “the Long Range Planning Committee take the time to think beyond an April referendum on a new school” at Leopold. I see the West side task force as just that, and I compliment the board for forming the group.
I also made the statement that “citizens of the broad Madison school community include people with a tremendous amount of expertise in education, management, finance, urban planning, real life, and more. You should use every possible opportunity to tap their knowledge.”
I’m here again tonight to restate my plea that the Long Range Planning Committee draw on the vast knowledge and experience of people in the community, because as I said in October, “I have this perhaps naive democratic belief that the more ideas you get the better the final outcome.”

I’ve also suggested to the Board of Education at a meeting earlier in July that you need not avoid controversy. “. . . [B]attles over substance, managed well, can be constructive. A furious volley of fact is met with a fierce counterattack of analysis—and the battlefield is littered with useful information. The self-interest on both sides tends to cancel out as long as the boss stays neutral.”
To edit that quote from a Fortune magazine article posted on schoolinfosystem.com, I urge the board and administration to stay neutral while the task forces work. Don’t stake out a position and expect the task forces to justify a predetermined outcome.
To ensure battles over substance on the West task force, I urge the board and long range planning committee to appoint Don Severson to serve on the board, because 1) his personal views (not the views of the Active Citizens for Education or ACE) match those of a large segment of us who wanted to vote for a solution to Leopold overcrowding but felt like the process had not explored all of the options, and 2) he can also tap many professional and business people who will freely give of their time and knowledge to help the task forces.
With Don’s help and the help of the whole community, I’m confident that the task forces can find widely supported options to improve the education of the children of Madison.