Landon Mascareñaz and Doannie Tran propose that, even as events of this decade have exposed stress points in existing top-down, closed systems within education and other public institutions, they have also created prime opportunities to rethink and redesign those systems in ways that encourage civic participation and invigorate local democracy.
In The Open System: Redesigning Education and Reigniting Democracy (Harvard Education Press, 2023), Mascareñaz and Tran argue for a critical revitalization of public education centered in openness, an organization design concept in which an entity receives, considers, and acts on input from the community it serves. As they demonstrate, open education policy improves information flow, increasing opportunity, bolstering public trust, and making room for cocreation and coproduction driven by community partnerships and family engagement.
Based on their groundbreaking work with educational coalitions such as the Kentucky Coalition for Advancing Education and Colorado's Homegrown Talent Initiative, Mascareñaz and Tran introduce six key liberatory moves that can bring about open system transformation. They highlight real-life examples of the types of incremental, specific, and discrete projects that leaders can use to create openness in educational systems at the school, district, and state levels, providing a blueprint for changemaking.