Institute for
Educational Inquiry


Center for
Educational Renewal


National Network for
Educational Renewal

Agenda for Education
in a Democracy

Agenda para la Educacion
en una Democracia


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Institute for Educational Inquiry
117 East Louisa Street #371
Seattle, WA 98102
Tel: (206) 325-3010
paulam@ieiseattle.org

With Whom Do We Work?


The mission of the Institute for Educational Inquiry is unapologetically educative. Everything we do—from supporting settings in the National Network for Educational Renewal (NNER), to working with policymakers and journalists, to communicating our beliefs and our Agenda to the public—rests on the assumption that we humans have the capacity to learn and to act on new understandings. Without that assumption as our driving force, we have no basis for our existence. We further assume that those we work with have a sincere desire to understand and contribute to our Agenda for Education in a Democracy, to think deeply about its implications for their work, and to act on those new learnings.

In a dream-induced flight of fancy, those of us at the Institute for Educational Inquiry might enjoy setting timelines for those we work with to "get it right." By June 2009, all tracking would be eliminated. By January 2010, adjunct instructors would not shoulder the primary weight of new teachers' preparation. By January 2012, all societal prejudice and institutional discrimination would be eliminated. In our rational state, however, we engage in no such predictions of progress. We work with people and with institutions wherever they are as long as they are interested in working toward our stated values and implications on practice. To do otherwise would counter our mission. We adopt a very long-term view of our work and its implementation. Some changes are personal and can happen quite rapidly. So can institutional changes where a groundwork has been laid. Other changes involve entrenched, unquestioned beliefs and practices; these will move more slowly. We accept this inevitability as we accept the responsibility to work with everyone who desires to enter the conversation.

We believe in the reciprocal relationship between self and culture. How does the culture of each of our institutions shape our selves? And what influence do we each have on reinforcing or improving that culture? Do we value all of our communities' people equally or do we array them in hierarchies? In what ways do we individually and collectively contribute to the shameful continuation and perhaps deepening of caste systems? We urge examination of these questions at all organizational levels.

We believe that we each have an abiding responsibility to create a good society, one where we learn to support each other in our search for equity of opportunity and equality in our humanness. We further believe that we must use democratic processes and skills in our quest for the good society. Learning from and with each other is difficult work. If the progress we make is to endure, we must be long term in both our vision and our enactment of that vision. Education is the key, and we embrace its potential.