LEADERSHIP V FOLLOWSHIP – Knowing the Difference Makes a Difference (3 in a 5-part series)

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“It is for the elder man to rule and the younger to submit.” ~Plato

Though the ancient Greeks were not the first and last to adhere to that mindset we must ask ourselves if it is time for a paradigm shift.

Have we arrived at a juncture in our evolution where Old-World opinions must be substituted with ideas more appropriate for the modern mind?

For if we are to raise our children to be adequately prepared to make the world better than we will leave it, then it is incumbent upon us to divert from the philosophies of our elders that have hindered progress.

The Cold War is over.

The animosity we collectively had against Russia dissipated in the public consciousness for the better part of the past two and a half decades after the collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union.

Referring to Communist Russia, prior to the collapse of the U.S.S.R. would be beneficial for us to review because there are parallels with Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s rule, which remind us of the dangers of Socialism.

Not for the purposes of fueling the flames of propaganda, but because history is a great teacher.

Saddam, a Socialist, patterned his form of governing after Joseph Stalin, the Russian leader who ruled under the concept of “Socialism in One Country.”

Let’s assume, for a moment, any criticisms of Capitalism are predicated on greed, and hunger for power.

I will concede that is a harsh reality.

Greed and hunger for power though are not exclusive to monetary gain, and the moment we compromise the protection provided under the Constitution by foregoing a Republic in favor of a Socialist form of government, we are in danger of being powerless against any leader who assumes that role.

Is Britain an ideal country to migrate to?

They tax their people through the nose.

Should we choose to move to Germany?

There’s a limit to personal freedoms like choosing your vocation and educational path and being stuck with it, which also limits employment options beyond your educational training if you get laid-off, or fired.

France?

The Socialists are currently falling out of favor with the public. The Socialist government has failed to prevent French automakers from outsourcing factories, and now thousands of workers are not only left unemployed, but there now exists a rift between the staunch left-wing Socialists and the pro-business Socialists.

This on the heels of a controversial move to loosen France’s labor laws…

Yet, some claim these countries have far better systems than the United States?

Not to mention that all of the aforementioned countries are members of the European Union, which is on the brink of collapse.

Where do we go from here?

Honestly?

With all the ranting from celebrities who stand on their soap boxes and claim they are leaving the U.S. what choice do the rest of us have?

As much as celebrities claim they relate to us, we do not possess the means to simply move our families to another country, and truth is, despite their demands that wealthy Republicans part with their fortunes for the poor they themselves wouldn’t spend a dime of their own fortunes to help us move.

Do we truly expect to find a solution elsewhere?

Why would we even consider it when we frequently share memes about “working through difficulties?”

Or do we merely post such statements to appear committed to our cause?

What do we hope to teach our children by fleeing when we must lead by example?

For several hours a day we trust our children to an educational system that has scarcely evolved in over half a century.

Before I proceed, let me make it clear that I do not fault teachers for the following facts, because in truth it is the government’s mishandling of the educational system that crippled progress.

In 2015, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the results of its global rankings on student performance in mathematics, reading, and science, on the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA.

The PISA is a worldwide exam administered every three years that measures 15-year-olds in 72 countries. About 540,000 students took the exam in 2015.

The U.S. ranked 35th in Math (well below the OECD average), 22nd in Reading, 25th in Science…it serves to note that in all three categories the U.S. dropped from its previous rankings in 2012 (the last time the test was administered).

Do we continue to allow the government to interfere given the most recent failed experiment, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2001? (Both Democrats and Republicans are at fault for that disaster).

It emerged out of concern that the American education system was no longer internationally competitive­­—significantly increased the federal role in holding schools responsible for the academic progress of all students, and placed a special focus on ensuring that states and schools boost the performance of certain groups of students, such as English-language learners, students in special education, and poor and minority children, whose achievement, on average, trailed their peers.

A noble cause, to be sure, but how did our elected officials determine they were going to make this a successful campaign?

Among the myriad of blunders, the Federal government did not force States to comply with the new requirements, but later threatened them with the loss of federal Title I money if they didn’t.

How was this even logical?

Though States were required to bring all students to the “proficient level” on state tests, each state was permitted to divergently determine their own definition of “proficiency,” and which tests to use.

After a series of waivers, such as no longer being required to meet prior mandates, and no longer being required to meet the deadline for proficiency standards…

…the government instituted teacher evaluation systems, while failing to raise and allocate the funds necessary for schools to improve their ability to provide students with the necessary tools and resources to succeed.

The goal, as I understand it, was to bridge the gap between high performing students/schools and low performing students/schools.

Though when it became evident that this endeavor would not be achieved, one solution presented was to lower the bar of proficiency by hindering the progress of high performing schools/students to minimize that gap.

How does this adequately prepare our children to be competitive in an ever-globalizing marketplace?

Which brings us to our current conundrum, the Bill to Abolish the Department of Education.

Let’s be honest, that is not going to happen.

I repeat.

That. Is. Not. Going. To. Happen.

In truth, the presentation of this Bill is merely political posturing by politicians on both side of the line. Yet, once again we are afforded an opportunity to learn from the past.

History is a great teacher.

The Cold War is over, but the mentality instilled in us during that time has permeated the collective consciousness of the American people of the new millennium. It was during the era of the Cold War when we were indoctrinated with the notion that freedom was exclusive to America. We were raised to believe in our own superiority, perpetuated our condescension, consumed this potion of pride that has us intoxicated on narcissism, and it is these misconceptions that have skewed our perception of reality.

This, I daresay, is a consequence of an educational system guided by the manipulative hand of politicians who are more concerned with preserving our memory of the past rather than learning from it.

Akin to Socialism, the power of individual teachers—who are committed to our children—is limited by government officials who prefer a system that perpetuates false notions and perceptions of the world rather than to adequately prepare us for competing in it and changing it for the better.

As long as our educational system remains under the yoke of the federal government it will remain an archaic institution limited by the powers bestowed on it by politicians who would prefer to divert funds into the pockets of lobbyists in lieu of investing in our children’s future.

Could we—like the Communist Russia—have entered an Era of Stagnation without having realized it?

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