Novato Parents & Family Coalition
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
- 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.