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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Thoughts on the (Charter School) Constitutional Amendment

About Derrick Brown

My passion is empowering people via methods that balance skill and will, analysis and synthesis, and ideas and execution.

I am currently the Director of Performance Management for the Georgia Charter Schools Association. In this role, I develop, implement, and report metrics that assess each member charter school's academic, operational, and governance performance.

I am an agent of accountability, much like a big brother - but not like Big Brother.

From 2004-2010, I served as a founding faculty member, governing board representative, administrator, and consultant at a public charter school.

Though I wore many hats, my primary role was always problem solving, and creating and refining plans and processes.

Prior to that, I helped to launch two successful startup ventures  – a for-profit Internet company, and a nonprofit educational publisher.

I am a registered mediator (sometimes referred to as a neutral) in Georgia. In this peacemaking role, I do not take sides, but I do inform perceptions, question assumptions, maintain a balance of power, and facilitate civil discourse between dissenters.

I am a mentor to several students. In this nurturing role, I do not make decisions or give directives, but I do help to identify options, and help to evaluate the consequences of choices.

I value divergent thinking (seeing multiple solutions to a problem), because it inspires creativity (the process of having original ideas), which adds value to society.

My educational, entrepreneurial, relational and academic experiences (I hold a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech) have endowed me with a diverse array of productive skills.

These experiences have also shaped my unique, sober, informed perspective on life, liberty, and the noble pursuit of peace and happiness. I do not think with my eyes, and do not mistake activity for achievement.

I succeed because I understand failure, and because I have exchanged the hubris of arrogance for the humility of ignorance. I know that I do not know, so I am always trying to learn.

About The Constitutional Amendment

In November 2012, Georgia’s voters will decide whether to amend Georgia’s constitution to allow the state to authorize charter schools that have been denied by local school boards.

There are two opposing factions that have emerged, who hold mutually exclusive views (i.e., they see the same picture, but view it through similarly biased frames of reference) about the amendment’s impact …

Amendment Supporters
Amendment Opposers
1.       Creates a substantive appeals option for school petitions that are rejected by local school boards. 1.       Creates a redundant bureaucracy - because school petitions that are rejected by local school boards can already appeal directly to Georgia’s State Board of Education.
2.       Creates more public school options. 2.       Creates a parallel school system run by the State.
3.       Creates innovative teaching and learning methods, healthy competition, and shared best practices among public schools – which benefits Georgia’s students. 3.       Creates more profit opportunities for out-of-state school management companies.
4.       Creates a system of schools with the ultimate measure of accountability – if they do not perform, they are closed. 4.       Creates a system of schools with no true measures of accountability.

I offer a simple, neutral  message of hope and accountability to both factions …

1.    Understand the flaws of your position.

We have all believed in something – only to later find out that it was not quite what we thought it was …

(The) Boogeyman
Ex-Boyfriends & Girlfriends
East Coast vs. West Coast Rap Feud
Game Shows
Professional Wrestling
Santa Claus
(The) Tooth Fairy
Web Van
Wonder Twin Powers

Spend ample time being forthcoming about your side’s shortcomings – including future unintended consequences, and other elements of the issue that you do not understand.

Inform your perceptions, challenge your assumptions, then help the undecided public understand the issues – so that they can make informed decisions.

2.    Sometimes "let go"; sometimes "let know".

The Bible contains a passage that almost seems to contradict itself – until closer examination …

Proverbs 26:4-5
New International Version (NIV)

4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
    or you yourself will be just like him.
5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
    or he will be wise in his own eyes.

In the jungle, those who become consumed with gnats and mosquitoes are often trampled by elephants. Pick your battles, and make sure you fight the right fight.

3.    Sometimes the cause masks the agenda.

Slavery was once a policy that opposing factions argued for and against with great passion.

Ditto for Prohibition, and denying the right to vote to people because of their skin color or gender.

Policies are created, challenged, and changed by self-interested humans who may be guided as much by ambition and myopia as they are by principles.

4.    Sometimes our causes mask our issues.

The media (which now includes the blogosphere) is littered with assumptions, perceptions, intentional manipulations, meaningless data, half-truths (also referred to as “true lies”), innuendo, and vitriol. Volumes of this content is produced and consumed daily by folks who love to argue.

In this fight, both sides justify both their passions and vices by stating that they are for children.

Folks who love to argue may not do so because of their passion – they may just love to argue.


Derrick Brown
Phone: 678-467-1256
Email: derrick.s.brown@att.net

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