Common Ground Thinking Works

February 1999

Does the whole community have to agree on cultural issues before a school district can make and implement policy? Or, do we just satisfy the majority and hope the rest come along?

That's how many have been trained to think about social issues and their impact on education policy and curriculum. But many districts are moving the debate from trying to iron-out all our differences, to learning how we to work together with an appreciation for those differences.

It's called common ground thinking, and it is helping districts find creative solutions to the most difficult issues of our day. It works not because it minimizes differences, but because it finds a way to handle those differences that is fair to the public school forum and the various constituencies in it. Specifically common ground thinking works for five reasons--

  1. Common ground thinking removes educators from arbitrating social conflicts.
  2. Common ground thinking helps people of all persuasions appreciate and apply religious neutrality in the public school environment.
  3. Common ground thinking switches the dialogue from what I want for my child, to what is fair for all children, including mine.
  4. Common ground thinking eliminates confusion, suspicion and anger generated by advocacy groups on the right and the left.
  5. Common ground thinking affirms the priority of the family in faith and values.

For more information about hosting a Common Ground Workshop in your district, contact us at BridgeBuilders or the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University. And for a look at how one community used common ground thinking to find a unanimous solution to one of the most difficult issues of our time, read the article: Common Ground


Worldviews Education Watch (WEW) is a free service provided by BridgeBuilders offering the latest information on religious liberty and public education drawn from court cases, policies and current events. It will also share examples of successful partnerships and cooperation between public schools and faith communities.

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