A continuation of the second-guessing from the previous post, this series is meant to be commentary on the response to SDS rather than an analysis of the program proposal. Today's scolding: The proper usage of the word "voluntary."
An apparent disconnect between direct policy-makers and the community comes from differences between how the first group uses the term "voluntary" and how the second group hears it. On CDCAN townhall telemeetings, there has been frequent use of the term which seems not to be convincing a lot of the community.
To the direct policymakers, the fact that the program is voluntary means it doesn't have to work for everybody. To the community, there seems to be a sense that "voluntary" means the program needs only to work for the people DDS likes best. The difference was clearest on two recent conference calls when people described the pilot project participants as pioneers and others referred to the same group, essentially, as the anointed. The difference reflects something that I believe I have also detected, that there has been a broad, community-based but group of fierce advocates with strong values that believes itself to own this program and a far broader group with a strong interest in SDS that feels unincluded. The truth is, it is easy for government to find anointed pioneers and hard to find most of the others for whom this program should also be designed.
Nonetheless, this program is emblematic of how the State sees our community, and offers the kind of reform that break the cycle of a system growing more expensive and less successful. The failure of SDS to be implemented will break a lot of hearts, but it's failure to succeed broadly once implemented carries more tragedy. The voluntary nature of SDS justifies the a trade of rigidity (budget formula) for new choices. It remains important that the program be designed as robustly as possible whether it's voluntary or mandatory.