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ERIC Number: ED402659
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1996-Mar
Pages: 18
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
The Deliberative Opinion Caucus: Improving Quality in School Decision Making.
Connelly, Michael; Moss, Gregory
School districts often find themselves in a double bind when dealing with the public: they seek public input, but also are vulnerable to manipulation by organized interest groups that are not representative of the entire community. The dilemma is how to procure the overall community's public judgment of a topic and allow widespread participation. This paper presents findings of a study that tested the practicality and applicability of a deliberative opinion process for school districts. Officials of the Weatherford, Oklahoma, Public School District designed a variation of Fishkin's (1994) deliberative opinion poll, called the Deliberative Opinion Caucus (DOC). The officials used their variant of the DOC in March 1994 to evaluate the feasibility of a year-round school calendar. A total of 31 out of 400 registered voters in the district accepted the invitation to participate in the session. Participants listened to presentations highlighting the pros and cons of year-round education, engaged in both group discussions and a general open discussion, and completed an opinion poll. Respondents were somewhat favorable to alternative scheduling and preferred the "45 days in session, 15 out" format. They also indicated their overall support of the schools system. More importantly, respondents strongly approved of the DOC mechanism. They described its strengths as an informative process and an opportunity to hear opinions and interact. Weaknesses included poor attendance, one-sided material, and no student participation. Despite the low turnout, the designers of the process learned from the practical difficulties. Recommendations for improving the DOC included more indepth surveys, varied coverage of issues, and followup of nonparticipants. (Contains 30 references.) (LMI)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A