To the editor:
We are a group of Edina parents who came together because we are concerned about polarization in our community about how our schools deal with political and social issues. Five of us identify as leaning conservative and five lean liberal. Caroline Correia, Maggie McCracken, Tracy Lumpkin, Jennifer Wood, Karen Gabler, Dierdre Van Nest, Sue McHugh and Orlando Flores joined Ray Douglas and Michael Cavanaugh Blaes, the signers of this letter. Using a process designed and facilitated by the nonprofit Better Angels, we worked to better understand each other’s perspectives and find common ground for moving forward.
Using this process we engaged in candid, respectful conversations, and we were surprised to learn what we had in common. We all found that when we encountered one another face to face we discovered good people that embodied the same positive intent we aspire to in ourselves.
We all want academic rigor for our students. We all want free inquiry, respect and tolerance. We all want an environment that fosters critical thinking skills and represents multiple perspectives. While the devil may be in the details, we feel we can find a solution that is fair, balanced and inclusive. Working together, we can be more constructively engaged in our local schools.
Although many influences reinforce the “us vs. them” mentality that contributes to polarization, we are all in this together. We all bring valid perspectives that warrant consideration. Diversity of viewpoints should be respected as another valuable form of diversity in our increasingly pluralistic society. The best solution will never be “if only there were more people who think like us.” We model the behaviors our kids will emulate and bring into our schools.
There will be a series of workshops designed to bring others together with the aim of mutual respect and understanding. If you are interested in participating, we encourage you to contact us and get involved. Just one evening or Saturday morning is all it takes. Contact Karen Gabler at [email protected] for more details.
Michael Cavanaugh Blaes