by Amy B Bloom, JD
I have had the opportunity to work in the public school system in Michigan, as well as in state and federal governments. Over the years, there has been much talk about running schools and governments like businesses. While advocates point to the bottom line, detractors argue that these institutions deal with people and their goals differ (profit motive vs. service). However, there is one way in which schools should run like businesses that would benefit us all.
In order to stay at the top of their game, the most successful businesses support their workers and reward creativity, innovation, and problem-solving. They invest in their workers. They work hard to recruit, support, and grow their talent. Educators and administrators alike value developing students’ creativity and problem-solving skills, yet many schools are not designed to foster these attributes in their teachers. The result is that we all lose.
Great leaders recognize that great ideas can come from anywhere. They inspire and support their workers. Although most of my career has been in the public sector, I have been fortunate to work for great leaders – Rikki Klieman, Judge J. Harold Flannery, Jr., Judge Mel Greenberg, and the Honorable Patti B. Saris. They all shared the following characteristic – they believed in and trusted their employees. They demonstrated this by investing in and encouraging my professional growth. They provided wonderful intellectual challenges and trusted that I would rise to those challenges. They asked great questions, growing my knowledge and perspective. And, they listened to my questions and perspective on issues.
Innovation and creativity needs a certain environment to grow and flourish. Businesses recognize this. A look at Quicken’s “Isms” or a read of Nolan Bushnell’s book, Finding the Next Steve Jobs drives home this point. In this respect, schools and school leaders have much to learn from business.
Yet, our accountability system makes it difficult for school leadership to fully embrace and value the investment in teacher development and creativity out of fear that it might negatively affect the bottom line (as measured by standardized test scores and budgets). If we are going to improve our educational system, school leaders need to move away from a compliance-oriented and budget-centric approach and begin to value and trust employees, support innovation and creativity, and invest in deliberative democratic practices with their staff to develop a collaborative working environment. Google and Facebook clearly did not get to where they are by following outdated methods of leadership and human resource development. As described in the motion picture The Internship, with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, we are not allowing teachers to show their “Googliness”.
Deliberative democratic practices provide a means to develop a common vision and goals from an understanding of all perspectives involved. Everyone has a voice, and the process moves from discourse to action in support of those vision and goals. If we really want our schools to educate for democracy, these practices are essential. Deliberative democratic practices also support what great business leaders like Nolan Bushnell and Dan Gilbert already know: Great ideas can come from anywhere and by supporting workers and rewarding creativity, innovation, and problem-solving their businesses thrive. It is time for schools to take this page from the business world.
There is a European bibliography on Citizenship available at http://eudo-citizenship.eu/databases/citizenship-bibliography.
Under the guise of keeping America safe from the specter of terrorism, the Trump administration issued an executive order on January 27 that has proven to be one of the most drastic changes in the nation’s immigration policy, its posture toward refugees seeking entry to the United States and of the country’s traditional reputation for being a welcoming destination for those aspiring to a better life, in recent memory. The ambiguity of its language, its scope and its long-term consequences are causing consternation well beyond the false binary of the public debate that frames the issue as one of humanitarian impulse vs the need to keep America safe from the threat of potential terrorism.
The executive order has three basic provisions regarding refugees, immigrants and visitors to the United States. There is a 90-day moratorium on permitting entry of refugees in general, while refugees from Syria specifically are barred indefinitely. In addition, there is a 120-day bar on entry for individuals with non-immigrant visas from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. While each of these nations has a Muslim-majority population, President Trump insists his policy does not constitute a Muslim ban, despite his campaign rhetoric and that of his subordinates to the contrary.
While the text of the executive order appears limit its scope to refugees and non-immigrants seeking entry to the United States, there is considerable confusion as to its actual scope. Lawful permanent residents, i.e. “Green Card” holders had been barred from entry until the US State Department and Department of Homeland Security were compelled to issue statements of clarification that the EO did not apply that category of immigrant visas. At the same time, the exclusion of US citizens from the list of affected groups has not precluded Customs and Border Patrol from treating hundreds of Muslim Americans as second-class citizens as they attempt to return to the country. Many face secondary investigation at immigration control, including hours of additional detention where they are being questioned as to their religious and political views, in clear violation of administrative and constitutional provisions. They are also being coerced into surrendering their passports and their electronic devices for inspection of their email and social media accounts. Such “extreme vetting” appears to be occurring for Muslim US citizens whose national origin is outside the seven countries named in the executive order; irrespective of this fact, even citizens from those countries are to be constitutionally protected form such practices. The de facto impact of the executive order, however, is far different and much broader than the stated de jure scope.
There is an implicit conceit in the justifications for the current immigration related measures that prior policies were ineffective and dangerous to the security and safety of Americans, thus the need for a drastic shift toward refugees. In reality, the refugee vetting policy before Inauguration Day was stringent to say the least. The process takes a minimum of 18-24 months and involves no fewer than a dozen federal agencies and half a dozen international security and intelligence organizations. Regarding the alleged terrorism threat posed by refugees to Americans, no refugee has committed a single act of terror or murder in the United States. The killings in San Bernardino, the Orlando nightclub and the Boston Marathon are commonly invoked to assert the need for the current, restrictive policy as necessary, preventive measures. Again, none of those horrific acts would have been averted by the executive order, as they involved immigrants from countries not currently included in the ban.
Serious questions of constitutional integrity abound in light of the Trump administration’s executive orders regarding immigration and refugees. While the executive branch is perfectly within its rights to issue policy in the interest of national security and is able to exclude non-citizens, its privileging the entry of refugees from one religion and not another may be a violation of the First Amendment. Concomitantly, advocacy groups are vigorously opposing such policies.
As millions of Americans struggle to process the recent actions of the Trump administration and their legal, political and societal ramifications, The immigration-focused executive order is being successfully challenged in court, with five different federal judges imposing stays on the implementation and enforcement of the order. The court injunctions provide a trenchant study in civics literacy to gauge the mechanisms of how the Constitution’s checks-and-balances being exercised between the executive and judicial branches. Along with court challenges, the public reaction to the executive order has been swift and strong. Rallies, protests, marches and public mobilization have been a daily occurrence in a still very young presidency.
For a nation of immigrants, the executive order affecting refugees and others goes beyond mere discussions about terrorism, security, compassion and humanitarian efforts. It strikes at the nation’s pathology and the ontology of its citizens. The demographic shifts, the effects of globalization, the recalibration of America’s economic, military and diplomatic station on the world stage augur a sharp departure from the predictability of the nation’s future trajectory. But insularity and intolerance has never been a sufficient or successful antidote to insecurity, even in the name of security. For a liberal democracy, the consequences of an executive order may prove to extend well beyond its author’s term in office to redefine national policy and philosophy alike.
Saeed Khan is a senior research fellow with the CSC.
The Citizenship Conference now has online abstract submission available at http://www.clas.wayne.edu/Citizenship/Abstract-Submission-Page.
Now a prospective speaker may either send in their abstract by email, or send it via the online form; either one works just fine. One slight advantage of using the online form is that the author receives a confirmation right away that it is received.
The (updated) CFP is available at http://www.clas.wayne.edu/Citizenship/Call-for-Papers.
I am delighted to inform you that the Charles F. Kettering Foundation has named the Center for the Study of Citizenship as one of its centers for a democratic public life. This designation will enable the Center to send two representatives to the Kettering campus in Dayton to participate in a research and learning exchange on the introduction of deliberative practices into our communities. The foundation and its collaborators seek to answer one foundational question: “What does it take to make democracy work as it should?”
One of the Center’s participants in the Kettering exchange, Parada Jordan, will serve in a leadership role in the Center’s new Citizenship for Health project, for which Malcolm Cutchin (Professor and Chair, Health Care Services, Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences) and I serve as co-chairs. The mission of the project is to serve the citizens of Detroit by fostering processes of engagement and evaluation, especially those of democratic action and deliberation, that allow community-based citizenship to flourish for the sake of public health improvement. One of the goals is to become a hub for community-engaged research, beginning with health but with a goal of including all community-engaged research on campus.
The second Center participant in the Kettering exchange, Amy Bloom, social studies consultant for Oakland Schools, plays a leadership role in the Center’s new Citizen Dialogues, promoting discussion of controversial issues with a goal of informed, civil discussion, listening and problem-solving. It seeks to burst some of the civic “bubbles” that most Americans inhabit. In October, we launched the dialogues with a discussion of gun rights and gun violence. Keep an eye out in our next newsletter for details about the second dialogue, on immigration.
As you look forward to a new year and consider charitable donations, please consider a gift to the Center. Executive Board member emeritus, Mike Loewe, and his wife Kathy have generously offered to match all New Year donations to the Center up to $15,000. More information is forthcoming, but please help to make this the Center’s best fundraising year. Here’s is the link to the Center’s “giving” page. http://clas.wayne.edu/Citizenship/Support-Us.
With best wishes for the new year ahead,