Corky O'Callaghan

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Embracing Contradictory Ideas

A report with important implications for the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network (OPSAN) was published this month in BBC Worklife.  The report’s major message is that embracing contradictory ideas may actually be the secret to creativity and leadership.   The insights in this report highlight why it is so important that OPSAN be more than a mouthpiece for school leaders and supporters.  To be truly effective, OPSAN must serve as a trusted forum for open and civil discussion among all citizens.

Two Important Updates

Yesterday, at its annual Capital Conference, the Ohio School Boards Association hosted a presentation of the grassroots movement being led by the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network to give our citizens a stronger voice in shaping statewide education policy.  The introductory video that OPSAN created for the Conference gets to the heart of why this movement is so important.  The second update is that everyone is invited to join State Representative John Patterson on Monday, November 16 at 6 p.m. in a livestreamed discussion of the Ohio Fair School Funding Plan.  The link to participate in the discussion is http://bstntv.com/livestream.

A Call to Action

On Wednesday, 46 statewide leaders of the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network received a call to action from the creators of Ohio’s Fair School Funding Plan (H.B. 305).  In a  7 p.m. Zoom call with Akron Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Ryan Pendleton, Jim Betts and State Representative John Patterson, they explained that the level of legislative support for this major change in how Ohio’s public schools are funded has reached a tipping point.  What this means is that there will be a strong push to get this bill over the goal line soon after the November election during the lame duck session of the Ohio General Assembly.

A Must Read

In his powerful new book, School House Burning: Public Education and the Assault on Democracy, Derek Black discusses the link between the health and viability of our public education system and our American democracy.  A legal scholar, Black shows how today’s current schooling trends — the declining commitment to properly fund public  education and the well-financed political agenda to expand vouchers and charter schools — present a major assault on the democratic norms that public education represents.  For anyone concerned about the future of our country, this book is a must read.

OPSAN Ramping Up

Imagine for a minute how things open up after sitting in a long line of stopped traffic due to road construction or an accident.  Once you get past the roadblock, traffic not only breaks free but it does so at an accelerated pace.  After Covid, life will not only open up but it will likely do so at an accelerated pace.  Since the seeds of what opening up will look like are being planted right now, the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network is not waiting until covid is in the rearview mirror to begin ramping up this important statewide initiative.  In addition to presenting the OPSAN story at the Ohio School Board Association’s annual Capital Conference in early November, OPSAN’s Statewide Leadership Team and the Deer Park OPSAN Leadership Team will be hosting Zoom meetings this month to talk about Ohio’s Fair School Funding Plan.

A Beacon of Hope

Despite the division and turmoil that currently plagues our nation, I believe that what the authors said two decades ago in the introduction to The Power of Public Engagement: A Beacon of Hope for America’s Schools still rings true today:  “While the public schools are the focus of this book, what we (some of Ohio’s leading educators) have written has broad implications for all public institutions.  In Ohio, where much of the money for the public schools comes from local tax levies, we are being forced, out of necessity, to think differently in order to reconnect our schools.  In challenging the conventional wisdom of our profession, we have entered a world we never knew existed.  To our pleasant surprise, it is a friendly world full of people who not only care about their public schools and the children who attend them, but who also care about those of us who are being asked to lead those schools.  As you will see, this book is not just about what is happening in Ohio; it is about what can and must happen throughout our nation.  It is about bringing out the basic good in people.… Continue reading

Things Only Citizens Can Do

In discussing his forthcoming new book, With: Another Way of Thinking about the Relationship between People and Governing Institutions, Kettering Foundation President and CEO David Mathews states that there are things that can only be done by citizens working with citizens: “Public institutions in a democracy can’t create their own legitimacy.  They can’t, on their own, define their purposes or set the standards by which they will operate.  And governing institutions can’t sustain over the long term decisions that citizens are unwilling to support.  Governments can build common highways but not common ground.  And none of the governing institutions—even the most powerful—can generate the public determination required to keep a community or country moving ahead on difficult problems…Only citizens have the local knowledge that comes from living in a place 365 days a year.  Because of this knowledge, people know how to do things that are different from what professionals can and should do.”

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