A Better Internationalism and Better Education Reform


This is somewhat tangential to the perspective of schools as ecosystems, but relevant. In an article by David C. Unger in the World Policy Journal entitled A Better Internationalism, Unger argues that what Washington calls “internationalism” denigrates the constructive and true meaning of the term.

Washington-style internationalism has been reduced to an internationalism of crisis management, which is scarcely internationalism at all. It is a great way to cut off important debates about United States foreign policy and make a show of good intentions toward complicated and intractable problems. But it is unsustainable, and its inevitable frustrations and disappointments risk pushing the broader American public into real isolationism at some cost to America’s competitiveness and security. Yet that’s where the United States seems headed no matter who wins the presidential election this November.

. . .Constructive internationalism sees us all living on one planet, with our primary international interest making that planet safer—from global warming, nuclear weapons, infectious diseases, and the widening inequalities that weaken democracy and help feed support for ideologies of hatred, xenophobia, and racism . . . Crisis-management internationalism, as peddled by Democrats like Obama and Republicans like Mitt Romney, seems to have lost most of its capacity to inspire.

This made me think about domestic policy here in the US as well. In similar ways, we manage via “crisis management,” as opposed preventative, proactive, collaborative management that values local communities.

We can see this readily in education. We are much too quick to assign blame and forward political agendas based on “failing” schools, as opposed to carefully observing and considering local conditions and building and collaborating for sustainable reform.

Just as we must move towards a better internationalism beyond our borders, we must shift towards better education reform within our communities.

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