Risks of a Public Dialogue

What are the Risks of Having a Public Dialogue about our Public Schools?

When asked about the risks of having a public dialogue about San Francisco’s public schools, many respondents gave answers around a few key themes. Below are those themes, and some selected quotes. Download a full list of responses.

  • Becomes another report on the shelf
    “You do not want this to turn up on someone’s shelf. With all the effort and all the energy you’re putting into this, someone has to own this.”
  • Increases negative feelings about SFUSD
    “That it is nothing but a gripe session. People who have bad experiences can tell some pretty horrible things that are true.”
  • Does not result in positive change/No impact
    “What I fear is that we’ll rearrange the furniture. We don’t need to rearrange the furniture, we need a new ship.”
  • Leads to conflicts with existing organizations/No to new org
    “People don’t check their egos at the door. If people come to the public dialogue with preconceived positions – because I have a constituency that expects me to say certain things, if it’s not genuine authentic dialogue around themes – it risks solidifying positions.”
  • Raises hopes that aren’t realized, leaving people less hopeful, more negative about SF public schools
    “You make everyone more upset than they already are, provide false, hope, people become disengaged and disillusioned.”
  • No Risks
    “There’s always failure, but so what? People could fail, it could be bad. Personally, I don’t fear conflict, I live in conflict, it’s ok. If you try, you may fail, but if you don’t try, you will have already failed.”
  • Uneven participation/People don’t speak their minds freely
    “With anything public, people are more careful about what they say and aware of the people who are going to hear what they say, so it becomes more political and more crafted and people may take fewer risks because it’s more public.”
  • Alienate teachers and professionals because of finger pointing/More polarizing/Blame game
    “I think we have some deep fault lines: charter versus regular, neighborhood schools versus choice. My perception is that each of those has benefits. There’s a tendency for people to go for all of one and none of the other. That can just alienate and polarize people more.”
  • Dangerous elements are given space to flourish.
    “Look at Tucson, Arizona. The ethnic studies, the banning of books, learning about your heritage equates to hatred of whites. These types of ideologies are given space to flourish. SF can be a racist place. This opens up the opportunity for that. The city voted against violence prevention, overwhelmingly, it’s on public record. That psychology is out there in SF. It goes back to asking good questions.”