Civil Discourse in Action

Not terribly long ago, letter-writing was a cornerstone of our communication. It was a genre that nurtured the expression of our politest selves, cherished word choice and paid careful attention to tone. So here, The Line turns to letter-writing to model civil discourse in action.  John E. Deasy, editor-in-chief, The Line, and Chester “Checker” E. Finn, Jr, distinguished senior fellow and president emeritus, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, exchange their ideas and opinions on a number of very timely education issues in this short series of notes.


The way forward, so desperately needed now, is to seek to understand the other first, and then examine our own beliefs in light of respectful difference.
John E. Deasy, Editor-in-Chief, The Line

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we also need a deeper conversation about social safety nets and yet-to-be documented youth in our schools. The value of a good education, in my opinion, is not relegated to just those currently protected by citizenship.

Keeping ALL children and families at the forefront of our decision-making benefits all society and must be inclusive of all individuals who encompass it.

A consciousness-raising campaign is needed, and it has to go from abstractions about “the need for a well-educated populace” to concrete recognition by individual families that this applies to their kids.

I agree, and I wonder how we do this in a world that is enveloped in multi-directional sound bites.

seeking to understand

I noticed some significant phrases that seemed very intentional in the pursuit of shared understanding, rather than holding tightly or arguing a position. Phrases like, "I agree," "I feel, like you said,…" "I concur…and I also believe…" acknowledge and honor the other voice, while building on a thought to find common ground. This is not about letting go of one's beliefs, but leaving room for difference to allow learning and problem-solving to occur. I applaud this example of civil discourse and hope that it gives rise to much more.