The 90% Rule:
Developing Policies that are fair for all!

January 2005

Social scientists tell us that 72% of people who find a wallet in a parking lot with no identification and a significant amount of cash will return that wallet to the nearest store or to the authorities to help locate its rightful owners.   Clearly most of us have a basic understanding of fairness and will not take advantage of someone else’s loss for their personal gain.

Surprisingly the statistics are even better for those who want a public school system that is fair to their differences, rather than trying to get their way at the expense of their neighbors.  When given the opportunity to build polices that respect other points of view as much as they want theirs respected, more than 90% of the population will sign on.  Usually only 10% or less will seek to exploit political or legal processes to force their social or political agenda on their fellow-citizens.  Unfortunately they are the squeaky wheels that get the all the attention and often the ear of the press.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

  • Public schools can create an environment of mutual respect where differences of ethnicity, political views, or religious belief are not denigrated, but celebrated.
  • Public schools can get appropriate information to students about sexuality and sexually-transmitted diseases while providing tools and encouragement to those students who want to remain sexually abstinent. 
  • Public schools can be fair to science in dealing with the origin of the species, while at the same time ensuring parents who believe in creationism that the faith of their children will not be undermined in the science classroom.
  • And public schools can guarantee the safety and equal opportunity of those who are or are perceived to be gay, lesbian and transgendered without being dismissive of those have moral concerns about homosexuality.

And why would we not want to?  No one should be asked to participate in a public school system that is biased against themselves. 

So the next time one of those ten percent tries to throw your district into conflict, just remember that the best way to handle their agenda is to invite them alongside representatives of the other 90% who will work for polices that are fair for all and not those that prefer only one social ideology.  When they are asked to recommend policies that are fair to the differences in your community, they will respond in ways that will surprise you.  And in the process you will build support in your community for public education. 

Wayne Jacobsen, President
BridgeBuilders


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