In early June, I wrote a blog entitled "The Lost Art of Compromise" (click here to read that post) in which I lamented the inability or unwillingness of many in the legislature to try to work toward solutions that, while not perfect for everyone, would at least provide some balance in addressing the needs of a broad base of constituents. Of course, since I am writing about public education, my focus is on the failures of the legislature, despite the best efforts of Chairman Hubertry, most in the House and some in the Senate, to come to a consensus on how to address the school finance issue defined in the Texas Supreme Court ruling.
I had a couple of people comment to me that compromise had become a four letter word and that moving off of a hard line position could be viewed as a sign of weakness by those who concede. So what we found in the end was that, as I defined in the post, absolute winners create absolute losers. While there really were no winners other than the headline grab by the LG and others, it’s clear that Texas public education students are the losers in this debate.
So I got to thinking about a better word or phrase to define what should be a process to come to some consensus that benefits a broad cross section of the populace. Still struggling with that, I posed the question to a House representative who suggested to me that a better way to look at this is “to find common ground”. I agree that this does seem to have a much more positive connotation since it suggests that there are ways for each faction to gain something in the discussion.
Would that have made any impact on the 11th hour discussions about vouchers (by any name) and school finance? Perhaps not since, after all, both sides had put a stake in the ground and seemed unwilling to move off of their position. Is it an opportunity to effect some movement in the discussion (regardless of topic) in the upcoming special session? Perhaps but I don’t know if there is a willingness on either side to move toward common ground.
I certainly like “finding common ground” a whole lot better than the word “compromise”. The intent might be the same but the outcome seems to be a much more positive focus. Without the effort to find common ground, there will be no outcome focused on making education a priority for more than 5.3 million public education students. If that happens, we are all losers!