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### Achieving Consensus Across Political Differences: 5 Civics Lessons

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It’s no secret that the political landscape surrounding education policy has significantly polarized in recent years. The once prevalent bipartisan collaboration in education reform is now viewed as a sign of compromise rather than strength. This shift presents obstacles to progress in implementing reforms and initiatives, necessitating a fresh perspective.

Rather than traditional bipartisanship, advocates should explore a cross-partisan strategy. This approach focuses on achieving policy success despite differing political affiliations, rather than because of them. To succeed in a cross-partisan manner, advocates must tailor their communication and strategies to resonate with policymakers’ core values and priorities, thereby uniting stakeholders around mutual progress.

While navigating cross-partisan consensus in a politically divided climate may seem challenging, there are successful strategies that can be employed.

For instance, consider the emphasis on civics education, a topic of significant interest for both political parties, with 80% of likely voters expressing its importance. States are introducing various initiatives, such as Indiana’s mandatory [ppp1] and Utah’s grants for [ppp2] that encourage innovative teaching methods. By highlighting the significance of civics education and allowing flexibility within state standards, these efforts have garnered widespread support, appealing to values such as national pride and civic engagement across the political spectrum.

Successful policies, including civics initiatives, share common characteristics:

  1. Effective Communication and Broad Support: Policies must be easily communicable to garner broad support. The success of initiatives like the science of reading underscores the impact of clear and relatable messaging. By articulating a compelling narrative about the deficiencies in existing reading curricula and the importance of evidence-based literacy instruction, advocates garnered support from parents, teachers, and policymakers across the political spectrum.

  2. Addressing Local Concerns: Tailoring policy solutions to address specific local issues can transcend political divides. For instance, the [ppp3] enables teachers’ licenses to be recognized across member states, benefiting military families who frequently relocate. By directly addressing local needs, this initiative gained cross-partisan backing by resolving a widely acknowledged yet locally significant challenge.

  3. Political Support: When introducing new or potentially contentious policies, having backing from higher political or legal authorities is crucial. In the overhaul of [ppp4], for example, support from the governor, compliance with legal deadlines, and a robust public feedback process were instrumental in driving bipartisan acceptance.

  4. Achieving Mutual Wins: Finding pathways for all sides to claim victory is key to cross-partisan success. Efforts in states like Arkansas and [ppp5] demonstrate how policies can deliver wins for various stakeholders by aligning on shared objectives such as educational quality and civic responsibility.

  5. Media Strategy: Media plays a pivotal role in influencing public policy. For instance, the impact of the [ppp6] podcast on reading instruction reforms showcases how media can accelerate educational reforms by emphasizing research-backed solutions and mobilizing public and legislative support.

Adopting a cross-partisan approach could be the new imperative for success in education policy, benefiting both legislative achievements and the long-term welfare of children and communities. While different political entities may follow distinct paths, reaching a common-ground solution is vital for the success of all students and the nation as a whole.

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