Novato Parents & Family Coalition (NPFC)*
Guiding Principles for Public Dialogue

Updated: July 18, 2007

  • We are here to find and promote common ground ... like "Keeping Academic Excellence Paramount for Our Children." And, if there is disagreement, we want to help identify and define the precise nature, scope and basis of that disagreement.
  • We ascribe to the maxim of "disagreeing without being disagreeable." And as fallible human beings, we acknowledge our own strengths and weaknesses, and are committed to bringing "light, not heat" to any issue with ideas that are "seeds, not bullets." We also recognize, however, that any dialogue about matters affecting our children and families will, and should, never be emotionless, as we strive to keep it from being purely emotional.
  • We will not engage in or support any form of name calling or labeling. And if others direct such names or labels our way, we will respect their right to do so, but will respectfully try to return any dialogue back to the issues at hand --- i.e., where do we agree?, and if we disagree, what is the precise nature, scope and basis of that disagreement?
  • We believe such careful defining and narrowing of any issues facing the school Board, administration, teachers, parents, families, citizens --- and most importantly of course, our children -- will help all of us devote our precious time and resources to the things that matter most. In that regard, we think the current 3-minute, lottery process for public comments to the Board could be made more effective and efficient for all involved.
  • For example, once the appropriate preparatory staff, committee, etc. work is completed and that process indicates significant public interest and likely disagreement, the administration could be tasked with chairing joint meetings with representatives of the various perspectives in advance of such issues being placed on the Board's agenda. The goal of such meetings would be to define and narrow issues to those where common ground can or cannot be found.
  • Then, when such matters are presented to the Board, some portion of that Board Meeting could afford those --- who participated in the prior, administration sponsored meetings --- an opportunity to present their views in a more coherent manner (versus the current 3 minute, lottery method) on those disputed areas only also, allowing for limited rebuttal, etc.
  • Those methods --- i.e., administration sponsored meetings in advance and a "presentation" segment for disputed issues at the Board Meeting --- would, of course, be in addition to, not in place of, the current public comment periods and lottery approach.

We believe the above principles simply reflect the best of America's deeply rooted, timeless and matchless heritage.

* NPFC's website is at www.NovatoParents.org (where these guidelines and other materials to help Novato parents and families are posted). You can also e-mail us at npfc@NovatoParents.org . We welcome your comments and questions.