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The Art And Value Of Compromise

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Community organizers — and I was one for nineteen years — constantly emphasize the art and value of compromise. The focus of organizing is to get to the negotiating table and come away with a deal that’s “half a loaf, not half a baby.”

This perspective has served me well in the classroom, and it has informed my judgment on education policy. I’ve previously written about this topic in three posts/articles:

The importance of being unprincipled

The Art & Importance Of Compromise

Five Quotes That All Of Us (Including Self-Righteous School Reformers) Should Keep In Mind

I think working out classroom issues with students through compromise can help them learn an extremely powerful lesson, and provide them with a strategy to deal with challenges for the rest of their lives.

It’s a lesson, I fear, that has never been learned by many “school reformers” (and, I might add, some, albeit a much smaller percentage, of us on the “other side”).

The White House recently released a video of President Obama talking about the value of compromise. I think it’s a good, short analysis that’s worth watching:

Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s been very good in applying his beliefs on compromise to the world of education…

If you’re interested in learning more about the point of view of many of us who are, or who have been, community organizers, here are links to some good videos:

Saul Alinsky Explains Community Organizing as an Outside Agitator – Interview with Studs Terkel (audio only)

Encounter With Saul Alinsky — Part One

Encounter with Saul Alinsky – Part 2

Q & A With Nicholas von Hoffman (von Hoffman recently published a book about his work with Alinsky. You can read a short excerpt in a post I wrote titled “The Price Is Double” — Two Stories About School Reform & Money”)

The Democratic Promise – Saul Alinsky and His Legacy

Feedback is, as always, welcome…

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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