Mary Dean Benasso: We need a better explanation of equal access |

Mary Dean Benasso: We need a better explanation of equal access

Mary Dean Benasso

Re: The task force and constructive community conversations

I would like to offer a quick suggestion that I think could mend the growing rift in our community. Please consider giving our entire Summit County community an accurate, plain-spoken explanation of the difference between “Equal Access, the philosophy” and the “program/delivery model” chosen to achieve it.

The community needs to understand that there are different roads we can take to reach a common equal access goal.

If we continue to divide everyone into “pro-equal access” or “anti-equal access” we are missing an opportunity to illustrate that both “sides” actually support these goals.

If ever a simple definition could be a balm, this is the time.

I am in regular contact with about 85 people on this issue. Everyone is for the goals of equal access. They are only unsure about, confused by, or opposed to the model you have chosen to pursue those goals.

This confusion over nomenclature is causing an ugly but unnecessary rift. It’s your nomenclature, so you need to be the people who step up and explain it and give future conversations a real chance.

Right now, anyone who opposes the model is mistakenly and unfairly labeled as being opposed to equal access and then further labeled as an elitist or racist. Once things hit this confrontational level, both “sides” become blind to any common ground. And there is probably much more common ground than you think.

Heidi spoke to these definitions Tuesday night when she answered a question from a confused parent. Her explanation (I wish I could remember it verbatim) really seemed to click. People understood.

Perhaps I am being naive, but I do believe this simple piece of information could pave the way to much more civil and constructive public conversation and debate. It certainly couldn’t hurt.

Please give the task force and the community conversation a real chance at success by communicating the true meanings and differences of philosophy vs. delivery model.

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