Tags: International Law
- David Davenport;
- Kenneth Anderson;
- Julian G. Ku;
- Edwin Meese III; and
- Abraham D. Sofaer.
Here’s the conclusion:
The time has come to bring an end to the 27-month preliminary examination conducted by the OTP in this matter. The Court must act in accordance with its Statute and respect the clear jurisdictional provisions upon which its mandate is founded. We do not believe there is room for interpretation of the term State, and we fear that the Court may find itself embroiled in political matters. Recent instability and volatility in the Middle East reflect the importance of maintaining a Court that is credible, professional and based on international consensus. Ultimately this will also be the Court’s strongest claim to its goal of universal membership, and its legitimacy to act in those cases where it does possess jurisdiction.
Read the full letter here.
Californians brainstorm state’s political issues by Lenny Mendonca & David Davenport (San Francisco Chronicle) May 31, 2011Posted by daviddavenport in Policy Articles & Papers.
It’s hardly news that Californians are frustrated with politics as usual. The budget is billions of dollars out of balance and invariably comes together late, with duct tape and deferral of the real problems. Sixty percent of Californians say the state is headed in the wrong direction.
But a large part of the problem is the disillusionment and lack of engagement by Californians themselves, who have a major stake but not much of a voice. Occasionally they rise up with ballot initiatives, but even those are largely dominated by special interests. How can ordinary Californians be engaged and heard on the state’s big problems?
Next month, 300 randomly selected Californians will have an opportunity to do just that – to deliberate and speak out on key issues of fiscal and political reform that could help move the state forward. Using principles of Athenian democracy, and tools of leading-edge technology, these ordinary Californians will spend the weekend of June 24-26 in Torrance (Los Angeles County) engaging in the first-ever California statewide deliberative poll. Both the process and the outcome promise to be significant.
A deliberative poll brings together a representative random sample of the state for a weekend of study, presentations and small-group discussions of key issues – in this case taxation, local control, the initiative process and legislative representation. They will consider a range of reforms and approaches to these questions of governance and fiscal policy that could form the basis for breaking the logjam in Sacramento and moving the state forward. It gives voice to the commonsense ideas of everyday Californians.
James Fishkin of Stanford University, creator of the deliberative poll and one of the leaders of the “What’s Next California” weekend, has carried out such projects on important and difficult topics all over the world. Consistently, policymakers are surprised by the sophisticated trade-offs and recommendations that result from citizen deliberation, and the people who participate and observe increase their levels of civic engagement long term.
This unique civic experiment will be filmed and edited into a documentary to be aired by PBS, so that every Californian has the opportunity to see not just what but also how their fellow citizens think as they work through tough issues with their peers. The results of the poll will show what proposals the public would support, and which ones it would not, if it had good information and really engaged the issues. In that way, the poll will provide a route to responsible advocacy, a path for possible reform proposals and ballot propositions in the future.
Prior reform efforts have either been based in Sacramento itself, or brought together distinguished panels that created interesting studies that by and large ended up on a shelf. This time, 300 Californians should spark a serious debate throughout California and enable a broad-based look at improving governance in our large and complex state.
Stay tuned, California. The people are about to speak!
Lenny Mendonca is a director of McKinsey & Co. David Davenport is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. Together they represent the bipartisan leadership of What’s Next California. A multi-partisan group of organizers has come together to launch this project, including: California Forward, the New America Foundation, the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University, the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University, the Public Policy Institute of California, the Nicolas Berggruen Institute, the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University, and California Common Cause. See www.nextca.org.
This article appeared on page F – 6 of the San Francisco Chronicle
What Sort of Exceptionalism? (Townhall.com) May 26, 2011Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
President Obama’s foreign policy is confused, in part, because he really doesn’t
get American exceptionalism. Obama himself has said he believes in it, in the same way Brits and Greeks believe in their own exceptionalism. But if everyone is exceptional, obviously no one is.
American exceptionalism meansAmerica—with its moral core, its commitment to freedom and its republican form of government—is an exceptional nation, a city on a hill. If our president doesn’t believe in that, thenAmerica, we have a problem.
We can’t seem to decide where and when to intervene in the world, or when to collaborate and when to go our own way.
Much of this is confused foreign policy results because, in his heart, Obama seems not to believe in American exceptionalism. In these difficult times, we very much need a president who does.
To listen to the audio: http://townhall.com/talkradio/dailycommentary/581536
Tags: Education Policy
Perhaps no issue better reveals one of the growing divisions in the Republican Party than education policy. It wasn’t that long ago – 1996, in fact – that the party platform called for the elimination of the U.S. Department of Education in favor of a smaller federal government and greater power for states. But in the past decade, beginning with President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, Republicans have seemed to be challenging Democrats to see who can win the misguided race to federalize education…
Full article available at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/may/16/republicans-primary-choice-the-constitution-or-the/
How to Lose the Republic (Townhall.com) May 10, 2011Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
When Benjamin Franklin said the Constitution established “A republic if you can keep it.” But the
National Popular Vote bill moving through state legislatures is a poster child for how to lose the republic.
The genius of a republic is that it combines checks and balances and structures of stability to temper pure democracy. Structures such as the Electoral College assure that the deliberate sense of the people is carried out in an orderly, stable way.
The National Popular Vote bill is a clever end run around the Electoral College, requiring electors to vote for the winner of the national popular vote, essentially eliminating the role of electors and even states.
Vermont recently became the 7th state to pass it and it is now under consideration in larger states such as California and Connecticut. I vote with Mr. Franklin instead: let’s keep the republic—and reject the Nation Popular Vote bill.
Click here to listen to the audio: http://townhall.com/talkradio/dailycommentary/576153
Tags: Public Policy
Common Sense California Takes Public Engagement to a New Level with Noozhawk Project
Using high-tech tools, Pepperdine University affiliate teaches cities and counties new ways to engage more effectively
Pete Peterson, executive director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy in Malibu, says one of the biggest obstacles with public engagement is educating people on the definition of public engagement.
“The main reason public engagement has failed is a failure of communication,” Peterson told Noozhawk recently. “Someone will say, ‘Let’s engage the public on the budget,’ and they want to hear suggestions from the public. Someone else will think that engaging the public means informing the public.”
In 2006, two longtime and well-known California educators launched Common Sense California as an independent nonprofit organization. The founders — Steve Weiner, former associate dean of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Public Policy, and former Pepperdine University President David Davenport — had an idea to bring together Democrats and Republicans in a nonpartisan and trans-partisan way, and find issues the two sides could agree on at a statewide level.
“We wanted to find a way to address issues in Sacramento, as the Legislature was not touching budget issues,” Peterson said. “There are common concerns about the future of the state, and the state government had become disengaged from everyday Californians.”
What the organization soon learned is that it’s very hard, if not impossible, to affect state-level policy from the outside.
But the group also discovered that public-engagement efforts were not lost at the county and civic levels. In 2008, CSC put together an advisory council of city managers from throughout California. These individuals became the “eyes and ears around the state to connect us to public-engagement projects and to connect cities and counties to Common Sense California,” said Peterson, who added that the engagement appeared to work best under more localized circumstances.
That same year, Common Sense California launched a public-engagement grant program that provided more than $200,000 for cities, counties and special districts to engage residents on local projects.
“The way we work to promote participatory governance is to work as a matchmaker for cities and counties to resources and to fund the efforts,” Peterson said. “We train city and county officials all over the state how to do public engagement.
“Essentially, it was the training piece that connected us up with Pepperdine University. To do the training most effectively, we wanted to offer it through an academic institute.”
Common Sense California created the collaboration with Pepperdine through the Davenport Institute to train and support public engagement efforts around the state. Peterson said that CSC has consulted on about 25 public-engagement projects, with case studies being the main thrust of the training.
The typical training session is a half-day meeting hosted by a city or county. Peterson said between 50 and 75 local officials attend the workshop-style conferences that include lectures and small group exercises. Educating officials on what public engagement is and can be is a main focus of the events.
“Legitimate public engagement is a spectrum of different things that starts with informing the public about a specific policy,” he explained. “Consulting occurs when the public is provided with enough information about a decision that gives them the opportunity to wrestle a number of policy options. Full direct participation is what happens when the public is not only consulted on options but also asked to participate on an issue.
“At the root of projects that don’t work, you see a confusion of terms.”
Common Sense California tries to help make meetings engaging, and Peterson said that even the layout of an engagement can be unproductive.
“At the front of every nonproductive engagement is a three-minute time frame and a microphone, which is neither deliberative nor engaging,” Peterson said. “We teach how these civic leaders can structure these public engagement processes to be more deliberative and instruct how reports happen, how people get invited and how to structure a meeting.”
A key challenge in supporting public engagement is removing the public’s perception of public engagement as a lazy and expensive decision-making process.
“One of the ways we frame that discussion is to say that by not engaging the public at the beginning, you’re inviting possible obstruction by the public,” Peterson said. “One thing we’ve learned a lot, especially with the Internet age and easier networking, is either you engage your public or they engage you. This can happen on your terms or you will do it at their terms, at the ballot box or in a courtroom.”
Peterson said public engagement is not meant to be uncontrolled, random or out of control.
“Public engagement is not meant to look like those health-care town hall meetings where there is a bunch of screaming back and forth,” he said. “It’s a perception many city leaders have had, and we’re trying to help them understand that there is a different way to engage your public. It is still a new concept.”
The Davenport Institute chose Noozhawk as a partner to engage the Santa Barbara public in helping the city of Santa Barbara tackle its budget issues. Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen was part of Common Sense California’s original statewide organizing efforts, and the institute’s board and leadership have closely followed the development of the professional online local news publication since before it was launched in late 2007.
“One of the challenges municipalities face to make online public engagement work, is that you not only have to do the public engagement thing but you also have to think like an Internet marketer,” Peterson said. “You have to be very intentional about driving traffic and participation — which don’t sound like government things, but it is part of online engagement.
“With Noozhawk, you not only have readers who are engaged but are also knowledgeable about local events,” he added.
Common Sense California and the Davenport Institute will continue to help cities and counties engage the public to make policy decisions.
“With the continuing fiscal crisis,” Peterson said, “we’re going to help cities and counties make more decisions they didn’t think they’d find a way to make by giving them extra tools of leadership — instead of making decisions from the top down, which is no longer sustainable because some decisions are so big. It’s not enough to say the council has made a decision and this is how you’re moving forward.
“At the Davenport Institute, we’re playing a small role in helping local leaders to understand this new leadership skill. I’m still dubious as to whether this will work at the statewide level,” Peterson said with a laugh.
Click here to see the original article http://www.noozhawk.com/article/050811_santa_barbara_challenge_common_sense_california/ .
Click here for more information on the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership.
Below is a statement signed by David Davenport and other educational and scholarly leaders:
Closing the Door on Innovation
We, the undersigned, representing viewpoints from across the political and educational spectrum, oppose the call for a nationalized curriculum in the Albert Shanker Institute Manifesto “A Call for Common Content.”1 We also oppose the ongoing effort by the U.S. Department of Education to have two federally funded testing consortia develop national curriculum guidelines, national curriculum models, national instructional materials, and national assessments using Common Core’s national standards as a basis for these efforts.2
We agree that our expectations should be high and similar for all children whether they live in Mississippi or Massachusetts, Tennessee or Texas. We also think that curricula should be designed before assessments are developed, not the other way around.
But we do not agree that a one-size-fits-all, centrally controlled curriculum for every K-12 subject makes sense for this country or for any other sizable country. Such an approach threatens to close the door on educational innovation, freezing in place an unacceptable status quo and hindering efforts to develop academically rigorous curricula, assessments, and standards that meet the challenges that lie ahead. Because we are deeply committed to improving this country’s schools and increasing all students’ academic achievement, we cannot support this effort to undermine control of public school curriculum and instruction at the local and state level—the historic locus for effective innovation and reform in education—and transfer control to an elephantine, inside-the-Beltway bureaucracy.
Moreover, transferring power to Washington, D.C., will only further subordinate educational decisions to political imperatives. All presidential administrations—present and future, Democratic and Republican—are subject to political pressure. Centralized control in the U.S. Department of Education would upset the system of checks and balances between different levels of government, creating greater opportunities for special interests to use their national political leverage to distort policy. Our decentralized fifty-state system provides some limitations on special-interest power, ensuring that other voices can be heard, that wrongheaded reforms don’t harm children in every state, and that reforms that effectively serve children’s needs can find space to grow and succeed.
The nationalized curriculum the Shanker Manifesto calls for, and whose development the U.S. Department of Education is already supporting, does not meet the criteria for sound public policy for the following reasons.
First, there is no constitutional or statutory basis for national standards, national assessments, or national curricula. The two testing consortia funded by the U.S. Department of Education have already expanded their activities beyond assessment, and are currently developing national curriculum guidelines, models, and frameworks in accordance with their proposals to the Department of Education (see the Appendix). Department of Education officials have so far not explained the constitutional basis for their procedures or forthcoming products. The U.S. Constitution seeks a healthy balance of power between states and the federal government, and wisely leaves the question of academic standards, curriculum, and instruction up to the states.3 In fact, action by the U.S. Department of Education to create national standards and curricula is explicitly proscribed by federal law, reflecting the judgment of Congress and the public on this issue.4
Even if the development of national curriculum models, frameworks or guidelines were judged lawful, we do not believe Congress or the public supports having them developed by a self-selected group behind closed doors and with no public accountability. Whether curriculum developers are selected by the Shanker Institute or the U.S. Department of Education’s testing consortia, they are working on a federally funded project to dramatically transform schools nationwide. They therefore ought to be transparent and accountable to Congress and the public.
Second, there is no consistent evidence that a national curriculum leads to high academic achievement. The Shanker Manifesto suggests that the only possible way to achieve high academic achievement is through a single national curriculum. Yet France and Denmark have centralized national curricula and do not show high average achievement on international tests or a diminishing gap between high- and low-achieving students. Meanwhile, Canada and Australia, both of which have many regional curricula, achieve better results than many affluent single-curriculum nations. The evidence on this question has been exhaustively addressed elsewhere.5 It does not support the conclusion that national standards are necessary either for high achievement or for narrowing the achievement gap.
Moreover, population mobility does not justify a national curriculum. Only inter-state mobility is relevant to the value of a national curriculum, and inter-state mobility in this country is low. The Census Bureau reports a total annual mobility rate of 12.5% in 2008-9,6 but only 1.6% of the total rate consists of inter-state moves that a national curriculum may influence. Other data indicate that inter-state mobility among school-age children is even lower, at 0.3%.7
Third, the national standards on which the administration is planning to base a national curriculum are inadequate. If there are to be national academic-content standards, we do not agree that Common Core’s standards are clear, adequate, or of sufficient quality to warrant being this country’s national standards. Its definition of “college readiness” is below what is currently required to enter most four-year state colleges. Independent reviews have found its standards to be below those in the highest-performing countries and below those in states rated as having the best academic standards.8
Fourth, there is no body of evidence for a “best” design for curriculum sequences in any subject. The Shanker Manifesto assumes we can use “the best of what is known” about how to structure curriculum. Yet which curriculum would be best is exactly what we do not know, if in fact all high school students should follow one curriculum. Much more innovation and development, and research evaluating it, is needed to address this knowledge gap. This means we should be encouraging—not discouraging—multiple models. Furthermore, the Shanker Manifesto calls for national curricula to encompass English, mathematics, history, geography, the sciences, civics, the arts, foreign languages, technology, health, and physical education. We wonder what is not included in its sweeping concept of a national curriculum.
Fifth, there is no evidence to justify a single high school curriculum for all students. A single set of curriculum guidelines, models, or frameworks cannot be justified at the high school level, given the diversity of interests, talents and pedagogical needs among adolescents. American schools should not be constrained in the diversity of the curricula they offer to students. Other countries offer adolescents a choice of curricula; Finland, for example, offers all students leaving grade 9 the option of attending a three-year general studies high school or a three-year vocational high school, with about 50% of each age cohort enrolling in each type of high school. We worry that the “comprehensive” American high school may have outlived its usefulness, as a recent Harvard report implies.9 A one-size-fits-all model not only assumes that we already know the one best curriculum for all students; it assumes that one best way for all students exists. We see no grounds for carving that assumption in stone.
The Shanker Manifesto does not make a convincing case for a national curriculum. It manifests serious shortcomings in its discussion of curricular alignment and coherence, the quality of Common Core’s national standards, course sequence and design, academic content, student mobility, sensitivity to pluralism, constitutionality and legality, transparency and accountability, diverse pedagogical needs, and the absence of consensus on all these questions. For these reasons, we the undersigned oppose the Shanker Manifesto’s call for a nationalized curriculum and the U.S. Department of Education’s initiative to develop a national curriculum and national tests based on Common Core’s standards. ******************************************************************
To view the statement with signatures and appendices please click on the following link: