Thursday, May 05, 2011

Strategies: Building consensus or conflict

I'm a mediator by nature. I keep plugging on, working for solutions. I'd rather look for commonalities than differences, and I'd rather build consensus than conflict.

That's why I'm so frustrated by my current state leadership. Wisconsin's state senate and assembly are not just dominated by one party, they're ruled and controlled by the majority. Amendments suggested by the minority party are automatically rejected, discussion ignored, and the constituents of those districts end up unrepresented. Demonstrators are taking to the streets because they're feeling unrepresented and they're not feeling heard.

I'm a problem-solver. I want to see issues resolved and compromises reached. I know budget cuts are inevitable; we teachers have been working under budget cuts for years. We, like the teachers on Jeopardy, are fiscally as conservative as we can be.

Chuck and I noticed that the teachers on Jeopardy's Teacher Tournament always bet conservatively in Final Jeopardy. Chuck suggested it's because teachers are so accustomed to not spending money that given a chance, they'll keep what little they have. In a Jeopardy tournament, that is a losing strategy.

If I keep teaching, I'll continue doing more and more with less and less. I'll keep writing grants, I'll keep getting as much as I can for as little as possible. It gets harder and harder to educate children well while doing more with less while our schools are funded by people who believe in conflict, not consensus. And that, good people, is a losing strategy, too.

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