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Sources of Balanced Discussion of Issues:

To best understand the complex issues of today, it is best to understand all sides of an issue. Besides the National Issue Forum issues, here are some sources that appear balanced in their approach to Michigan issues:

  • The Center for Michigan has two reports that I found worthy of study: the February, 2007 report “Michigan’s Defining Moment: Report of the Emergency Financial Advisory Panel” and the May, 2008 report “Michigan’s Defining Moment: A Common Ground Agenda for Michigan’s Transformation”

  • Michigan Future appears to be another interesting non-partisan organization with its recent report “Michigan’s Transition to a Knowledge-Based Economy: Second Annual Progress Report” and its June, 2006 report “A New Agenda for a New Michigan” This is a good effort, but the communication appears to be all one-way, from the organization outward, without any engagement of others to foster the implementation of its ideas.

  • A source of political commentary that at first glance appears non-partisan is the Michigan Policy Network, a student-led public education and research program run out of the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University. There is lots of interaction, which appears to be all online.

  • I saw an interesting political commentator recommendation last week, with an impressive list of subscribers, Bill Ballenger’s “Inside Michigan Politics". Unfortunately, the annual subscription is $155.

  • On the education scene, is “Tough Choices or Tough Times: The Report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce” published by the New Skills Commission proposes dramatic school reform measures. The Executive Summary is available for download. The full book is available on Amazon for $5 (2006 version) or $15.61 (2008 version). I don’t know that America is ready for such drastic measures, but they deserve discussion, as the system we currently have is broken.

Only the Center for Michigan appears to engage the public. I tend to shy away from large, public, dog and pony shows with panels of experts spreading their pearls among the swine, as I can get that info more efficiently in other ways, and find it relatively ineffective in activating anyone. I perceive active participation in the subject area as necessary to engage the participants. That is one reason I love the National Issues Forum format. The downside is that it is very time intensive, as it is difficult to engage more than 20 people in a discussion. In the forums I will be holding, I am planning to have one or more additional trained moderators at the forums, to break up groups larger than 20 so everyone can get adequate air time and feel that they have had a chance to truly participate.

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