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DC Choicework - Leveling the Playing Field

DC Choicework - Leveling the Playing Field

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Published by A Elizabeth Pecot

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Published by: A Elizabeth Pecot on Aug 11, 2012
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08/11/2012

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 Leveling the Playing Field:
A Community Discussion on Quality Education inWashington DC
 
 
 A
Public 
 Agenda
Choicework 
Guide
 for 
Community 
Conversations,
Classrooms,
 Study 
Groups
and 
Individuals
 
 
2
 A
Note
on
Public
 Agenda’s
Choicework 
Guides
Public Agenda Choicework Guides support dialogue and deliberation on a wide variety ofissues. They have been used in thousands of community conversations and classrooms, by journalists and researchers, as well as individual citizens looking to gain perspective on publicissues.Each guide is organized around several alternative ways of thinking about an issue, each withits own set of values, priorities, pros, cons and tradeoffs. The different perspectives are drawnboth from what the public thinks about an issue, based on surveys and focus groups, as well aswhat experts and leaders say about it in policy debates.
Customizing
to
fit 
your
situation
Note that the Choicework Guides are meant to help people start thinking and talking about anissue in productive ways--they are not meant to rigidly restrict thinking or dialogue. Theperspectives described are not the only ways of dealing with the problem, nor are the viewpointsnecessarily mutually exclusive in every respect. Many people will mix and match differentperspectives, or add to them with related ideas.Additionally, users of these guides have the option of providing various kinds of nonpartisaninformation along with them as context for a conversation. For instance, for a guide on aneducation topic, a few well-chosen facts about local schools might be a useful adjunct to theguide if you are using it in a group setting.
Using
the
guide
in
small
group
dialogues
The discussion guide that follows is given to each participant and moderator in a small groupdialogue. The group reads through the full Choicework together and then participants are askedto indicate, through a show of hands, which of the approaches he or she believes will make thegreatest impact on the issue at hand – in this case, hunger in north and east King County,Washington.Note that the “show of hands” is only meant as a starting point for conversation. People are notcommitting to a single solution but simply indicating which approach appears at first glance toshow the most promise. The dialogue begins by asking people why they lean the way they do,after which people are free to start combining ideas, adding new ones, etc. Participants are ledthrough a moderated discussion about their choices and the values, priorities, pros, cons andtradeoffs embedded in each approach.After discussing the choices on the following pages, the moderator and participants may wish toconsider and talk through the questions outlined below for the purposes of (1) summarizing theconversation and (2) bridging from dialogue into action.
 
 
3
(1)
Summarizing
a
Choicework 
Conversation
These questions are a good way to summarize a Choicework dialogue prior to considering moreaction-oriented questions:1. In our conversation so far, have we discovered any common ground? What do we agreeon or have in common?2. What were our important areas of disagreement or concern—the issues we may have tokeep talking about in the future?3. What are the questions that need more attention? Are there things we need moreinformation about in order to address this issue effectively?
(2)
Bridging
from
Dialogue
to
 Action
These questions can help you move from deliberation and dialogue about the issue at hand toactions that can help address the issue:1. How can we work together to make a difference in our community on the issues wediscussed today?
[This question can be tailored to your planning team’s goals] 
 
Note: If this question generates a long list of potential actions, they can be prioritized by asking each person to list his or her top three ideas.
2. Is there anything that you, as individuals, might do, or do differently, as a result oftoday’s conversation?3. What would you like to see happen to follow up on today’s conversation? What shouldthe immediate follow-up steps be?

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