From Idea to Reality: Selling Separation
By Chris Cardiff
Originally published in The Education Liberator, Vol. 1, No. 2, October 1995
Ben Franklin's formula for success
New ideas pass through three stages on their way to acceptance: Absurd, Bold, and Obvious. For many people, the idea of separating school and state is still at the absurd stage.
The goal of the Separation Alliance is to advance the Separation concept as a bold, positive overhaul of our educational system benefiting both consumers (parents, children) and producers (teachers, administrators). Just how do we accomplish this paradigm shift? How do we take the dream of separating school and state and make it real?
Marshall Fritz, founder of the Separation Alliance, believes that each stage of a paradigm shift requires a different emphasis. The three processes necessary to the successful adoption of a new idea are: Education, Politics, and Implementation (see table 1). To start the shift, we need to launch a massive educational campaign that demonstrates why the current system fails, the immense benefits of moving to a free market in education, and the practical steps needed to reach our goal. Our strategy, in words Fritz borrows from long-time Separation advocate John Gardner, is to "create an appetite for Separation."
Associate in the design a number of active friends
Benjamin Franklin — entrepreneur, inventor, scientist, diplomat, writer, and revolutionary — describes in his autobiography the successful techniques he used to convince his Philadelphia neighbors to support many of his "absurd" ideas, including the first lending library and fire department for Philadelphia:
The first step I took was to associate in the Design a Number of active Friends...the next was to write and publish a Pamphlet...This I distributed among the principal Inhabitants gratis; and as soon as I could suppose their minds a little prepared by the Perusal of it, I set on foot a Subscription [donations]...
Just like Franklin, the Alliance needs to "associate in the Design a Number of active Friends" — our success depends on active, volunteer support. The crisis in education demands that the only real solution — Separation — not be left to chance but embraced by those individuals who already grasp the potential benefits and who join together to educate others.
Methods may vary, but the objective is to provoke a "national discussion" on Separating School and State. With each repeated hearing or seeing more individuals and groups move step-by-step toward endorsing and enacting Separation.
Prepare the minds of the people
Previous however to the Solicitation, I endeavored to prepare the Minds ofthe People by writing on the Subject in the Newspapers, which was my usual Custom in such Cases...The Subscriptions afterwards were more free and generous...
The Education Liberator, the items in the Separation Kit, and the national convention of the Separation Alliance are just tools. The real key to success will be grassroots support — individual people across the country sharing the concepts of Separation with their friends and neighbors. As Jim Warren points out (see sidebar), personal advocacy is the most successful method of persuasion. To effectively coordinate grassroots support, we need to establish temporary "Separation Chapters" in school districts throughout the country. Chapters will create the "appetite for Separation" at the grassroots level by soliciting signatures on the Proclamation and recruiting School Sakharovs (see "The Cement Canoe" in the September issue). These are the key measures of the Alliance's success in generating the groundswell of popular support needed to make Separation a reality.
Paving the way
This Idea...was communicated to the other Clubs, but as arising in each of them. And tho' the plan was not immediately carried into Execution, yet by preparing the Minds of People for the Change, it paved the Way for the Law obtain'd a few years after...
Once widespread support for Separation exists, the next step, political action, will occur naturally. If we successfully create an appetite for Separation, the science of politics tells us that politicians will "spontaneously" emerge who wish to take advantage of it. To illustrate this, consider the 1994 elections. Politicians, at all levels of government, detected a national "mood swing" and scores acted accordingly by changing their political affiliations.
Until we create the grassroots support, even politicians who agree with the Separation concept will not be willing to waste their time and political capital supporting it. Clearly, the educational process must come before the political process.
The full Separation of School and State is a Bold and Obvious solution to the multiple crises in education. Individuals joining with the Alliance can rescue parents and children, teachers and administrators from a fatally flawed educational system. For, as Marshall Fritz says, "only full educational freedom will allow students, teachers, and schools to flourish."
Chris Cardiff is the Executive Director of the Separation of School & State Alliance.
WANTED: Alliance volunteers
The Separation Alliance seeks enthusiastic volunteers desiring to promote the Separation of School and State. Candidates will work with other highly motivated Separation enthusiasts at the local level writing, speaking, recruiting, signature gathering, and performing any other activities that provoke national and local discussions of Separation. Call 559-499-1776 to apply.
This article is copyrighted by the Alliance for the Separation of School & State. Permission is granted to freely distribute this article as long as this copyright notice is included in its entirety.
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