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Contested Values: Tug-Of-War In The School Yard (NIF Issue Guide)

One of the National Issues Forums Institute’s issue guides, Contested Values: Tug-Of-War In The School Yard outlines this public issue and several choices or approaches to addressing the issue. National Issues Forums do not advocate a specific solution or point of view, but provide citizens the opportunity to consider a broad range of choices, weigh the pros and cons of those options, and meet with each other in a public dialogue to identify the concerns they hold in common. From the issue guide…

America’s public schools, which have been the principal means of transmitting common values from one generation to the next, have become battlefields. At issue are fundamental differences about moral authority, family life, sexual expression, and how to live together despite our differences.

At the core of these controversies are clashes over moral values—what principles and moral perspectives Americans want to transmit to their children and what role the public schools should play in this respect. The voices are strident. But all those involved in the school wars claim to represent the genuine interests of the American public, particularly the interests of school-age children and their parents.

As various factions wrestle for control of the school curriculum, hundreds of American communities have experienced debilitating tensions. In the process, the public school system has become a political and legal battleground. In the crossfire of controversy, says Charles Haynes of the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center in Nashville, “extremes have surfaced on all sides, and any notion of a common vision for the common good is lost in the din of charge and countercharge. As alienation and frustration deepen, public education is weakened and our future as one nation of many peoples and faiths is called into question.”

More about NIF issue guides…

NIFI’s issue guides introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. By intention, issue guides do not identify individuals or organizations with partisan labels, such as Democratic, Republican, conservative, or liberal. The goal is to present ideas in a fresh way that encourages readers to judge them on their merit.

NIFI offers various materials for each of the issues it produces issue guides on. The moderator guide or “guide to the forums” for each issue is available as a free download. Discussion guides (or “issue guides”) for participants are generally available in print or PDF download for a small fee ($2 to $4). DVD’s can also be purchased for some issues for just $6, for use at the beginning of your forums to introduce the topic and approaches.

NIF issue guides and associated tools can be accessed at www.nifi.org/issue_books/.

Resource Link: www.nifi.org/issue_books/detail.aspx?catID=7&itemID=265

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