Deliberative dialogue appears to have the potential to complement state policymakers’ traditional means of communicating with and representing the public. As they work to resolve education problems shared by communities across their state, legislators and other policymakers might find that dialogue offers them important benefits, such as:
1. Access to new information that
- a broader, more representative sampling of constituent opinion; and
- potentially better quality input due to the special features of deliberative dialogue.
2. Enhanced relations with the public, as both policymaker and constituent come to have better understanding of each other’s knowledge, experience, and point of view.
3. Increased capacity for sustained communication with constituent communities as they work on persistent education problems.
On the other hand, deliberative dialogue also appears to present feasibility issues for state decision makers. Each policymaker on his or her own will need to explore and weigh such factors as the likely benefits of the particular dialogue to which he or she has been invited, personal and professional time constraints, and sense of political safety.
If they carry a realistic set of expectations into their deliberations with constituents, state policymakers might expect to emerge with a more complete and valuable understanding of the public’s beliefs, goals, and expectations for public education. Ultimately, they may find that deliberative dialogue is an important and feasible addition to their tried and true methods of interacting with members of the public.
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