An Important Message to our Nation’s Heroes!

To my heroes in public education and to my heroes who are leading advocates for people of color, make sure you take note of a new piece of legislation being introduced in Congress.

What does it say to you when one of our elected representatives to Congress does not believe our public schools are good enough for the children of our heroes who serve in the Armed Services of the United States?

One of the lead stories, this morning, on the front page of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, reports that US Representative, Jim Banks, Republican from the 3rd Congressional District in Indiana, has introduced a bill that:

“. . . would let active-duty military families tap public funds to send their children to private schools.”

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette also reported that “Banks wrote an op-ed column about his legislation that was published this week in the Wall Street Journal under the headline ‘Military Families Deserve School Choice.’”

It is time that our public school policy makers, administrators and teachers accept the indisputable fact that a growing percentage of the American people, led by conservative politicians and corporate reformers who are advocates of “school choice,” have given up on public education as the best solution for preparing our nation’s children for the future. These powerful men and women seem perfectly content to let public schools in affluent communities go about their business, but they view public schools serving disadvantaged children and their families as a lost cause.

To our heroes in the Armed Services of the United States. We understand how you feel about your children because we feel the same about all children, but, is this the America you are fighting to protect? An America where not every child counts?

It is time for advocates for people of color and the poor to acknowledge that these same supporters of “school choice,” whether conservative Americans and their political champions or powerful corporate reformers, are willing to abandon your children and their schools, teachers and communities. They consider you and your children to be part of Governor Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent of American voters who are dependent on government” and do not matter.

How long are we going to sit by and let this happen?

To public school educators I ask you to consider that all the protests, marches, rallies, and teacher strikes in the world will not alter the reality that disadvantaged children in America, a disproportionate percentage of whom are blacks and other minorities, are failing in our most challenged public schools, by the millions. Teachers may not deserve the blame for creating this reality, but they will be blamed until they are willing to accept responsibility and declare to the world that what they are being asked to do in our public schools does not work for disadvantaged children.

Teachers have not shown a willingness to say it out loud, but you know in your hearts that the existing education process does not work for children who arrive for their first day of school with minimal academic preparedness, little or no motivation to learn, and less parental support.

You know this to be true every time a student shows up in your classroom who is so far behind that catching up seems impossible. Teachers know this to be true every time you are required to record an “F” in your gradebook and move your class on to a new lesson when many of your students are not ready. You know in your hearts that these kids need more time to learn but the education process does not allow you to give them that time. You do your best to help these kids when there are only one or two of them in your classroom but when the kids who need more time represent 25, 50, or 75 percent of the students in your class, it is impossible to give them the help they require.

For advocates for people of color who are still working hard to make Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s dream a reality, surely you know that had it not been for the heroes of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s, we might still be waiting for meaningful civil rights legislation. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other such legislation was passed only because the civil rights movement could no longer be ignored.

Today, in this second decade of the 21st Century, public education is the civil rights issue of our time. I challenge advocates for children of color and advocates for public education to come together as a united front to stop the failure of disadvantaged kids, once and for all. Imagine a world, 10 to 13 years from now, when every single graduate from high school is armed with a portfolio of knowledge, skills, and confidence to enter mainstream America with real “choices.” All we need to do is go back to the drawing board to reinvent public education.

Here is the good news:

1. I have already gone back to the drawing board to reinvent public education and have developed an education model focused on success and rejecting failure. Use it as a starting point. If you think it will work, run with it. Or, it may inspire a better idea from one of you. You can examine my model at:

2. Solving the problems in public education for all children, not just the disadvantaged, does not require an act of Congress. It does not require an act of your state legislature. All it requires is that we find a handful of public school superintendents willing to test this new education model, whether mine or yours, in just one of the lowest performing elementary schools in their district. Once proven to work, it can then be expanded to every school.

3. Implementing an education model that works for all children will also render irrelevant, the corporate reform and “school choice” movement.

Whatever you do, please don’t just sit there. There are millions of children who are desperate for your help, now.

It is public education on which the futures of our nation’s children depend, and it is our children on whom our nation’s future depends.

The Danger of Donald Trump

As far back as twenty years ago, I became concerned that our nation was losing its sense of purpose and that the American people had begun to take democracy for granted. Democracy is a delicate concept that requires an equilibrium between freedom and responsibility. For democracy to work, people must share the same or at least a similar vision for our nation and its people. They must be willing and able to find common ground—a solution with which all parties can live.

When views become so disparate and extreme that people are unable to forge amenable agreements, democracy is put to a severe test. This is what we have seen in recent years with a Congressional gridlock where the best Congress can do is pass temporary legislation to hold off a government shutdown for a few weeks or months. Passing substantive legislation has become problematic, so great is the discord in Congress. This is also what happens when the focus of the principal players is to attack their opposition rather be a positive advocate for their own platform. It is a lack of positive leadership.

It has taken me 2 weeks to sort through my thoughts and feelings while watching parts of the Republican convention. I must confess that I could not make myself watch more than snippets of the major speeches during the convention. The rhetoric was simply too. . . . I cannot seem to come up with a word that accurately describes the disgust, fear, and even anguish of watching the Republic Party’s candidate for the Presidency of the United States calling people names, insulting their character, pandering to the racism and hatred in the minds of so many Americans, and making absurd promises that only the most gullible adults could believe. As I have written before, Donald Trump is the antithesis of positive leadership.

What I have come to realize is that watching Donald Trump at the Republican Convention is the scariest thing I have seen in my lifetime. It is not simply the things he says or the way he bullies people but something far more subtle but at the same time more profound. Donald Trump and many of the people who support him seem willing to trample the rights of people of whom they do not approve or with whom they do not agree. There is a viciousness to it that says no one matters but me and mine. This is hardly a recipe for democracy.

Throughout my lifetime, there has been simple concept that I have heard in many contexts and stated in many different ways that says “everyone counts or no one counts.” Is there anyone on God’s Earth that you would be willing to grant the power to pick and choose to whom we should extend the protections of the Constitution of the United States as delineated in the Bill of Rights?

During the entire Obama administration, attacks against our nation’s President have been nothing short of virulent and the overwhelming majority of the accusations are absurd and found to be untrue by any of the independent fact-checking services. The same is true of Hillary Clinton. You do not see Donald Trump attacking her ideas and accomplishments rather you see him brand her as a liar, much as he did with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio during the primary elections.

Our focus in determining to whom we wish to give our vote for President of the United States should be looking at their body of work and their overall integrity. In doing so we need to keep in mind that the longer one has been in public life or business the more mistakes they will have made and the more misstatements will have been uttered. It is simply a reflection of the fact that none of us are perfect, not even our candidates for the Presidency.

When we compare Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump you have two extremes in terms of career activity and objectives. Hillary Clinton has spent most of her life in some form of public service, whether working as a community activist or as a public official. Donald Trump has spent all of his life focused on his business interests. Both career choices are noble. If they are to be judged they can only be judged on the basis of the number and types of victims left in the wake of their respective careers.

Measuring overall integrity is problematic but what we can measure is the relative truthfulness of the two candidates. Truthfulness may not be the same thing as integrity but it is certainly a reflection of integrity.

Recently, Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize winning fact checking service that spares no one, found that 55 percent of Trump’s public statements were “false” which Politifact defines as “not accurate” and half of those received Politifact’s “Pants on Fire” rating which is defined as “A statement that is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim.” (

This is compared to 13 percent of Hillary Clinton’s statements that were found to be “false” and only 2 percent of her statements were judged as “Pants on Fire.” (

Looking at the two candidates from the perspective of truth, 72 percent of Hillary Clinton’s public statements have been judged to be “mostly true” compared to 29 percent of Donald Trump’s public statements.

If he acts true to form, one would expect Donald Trump to declare that Politifact is “unfairly biased against him.” It seems only fair to point out that other Republican candidates such as Jeb Bush and John Kasich were found by Politifact to be truthful roughly 70 percent of the time. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, by the way, were found to be 35 percent and 59 percent truthful, respectively. Bernie Sanders was truthful 72 percent of the time and had no “pants on fire” falsehoods.

In case you are wondering, President Barack Obama, according to Politifact, is mostly truthful 75 percent of the time, compared to Rush Limbaugh, who was found to be truthful only 17 percent of the time. I point that out only because so many of the outrageous accusations against President Obama and Hillary Clinton were originally voiced by radio and other talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh. That people are so willing to believe such people says a lot about Twenty-first Century America.

The rude surprise that awaits Donald Trump is that, should he be elected, his authoritarian approach will face the same gridlock as his predecessors. The only way he can implement any of the ideas reflected in his campaign promises would be if he were to circumvent or otherwise subvert the democratic process. This, my friends, is what makes Donald Trump so scary.

If the differences that divide the American people continues to expand, it is only a matter of time until someone like Donald Trump is elected to the Presidency who believes they have sufficient power to impose their will on the American people and the democratic process. This would mean the end of the American democracy as we know it.

When I began to grow concerned, twenty years ago, I began writing a novel about how things could go horribly wrong if we were to lose our faith in democracy and elect an authoritarian outsider to the Presidency on the basis of his pledge to restore domestic peace and prosperity (make America great again) at any cost. My novel, entitled Light and Transient Causes, was published in 2013. I encourage the reader to check it out. If we want to prevent something like this from happening we must understand just how bad things could be if we abandon our faith in democracy. You can check my novel out at

Consequences of our Action: No One to Blame but Ourselves

Imagine that you are an employer and economic conditions have required you to cut back wherever possible. Some of you reading this won’t have to try very hard to imagine such a scenario.

Imagine how your employees would feel if your response to the need for belt-tightening was to freeze wage rates or possibly even cut wages and benefits. On the benefit side, imagine that you dropped health insurance coverage for your employees and their families and that you suspended all travel and training programs, much of which had been offered to help your employees qualify for opportunities for advancement within you company.

It is reasonable to expect that your employees would be disappointed, at the very least, and we can be certain that some would be angry and resentful. During hard times, however, people understand that sacrifices must be made and the majority of your people would not lose their trust and respect for their employer or for you and your leadership.

Now, let us add a new variable to the equation. Let us assume that the members of the management team have not been asked to make corresponding sacrifices, even in this difficult economy. Imagine, in fact, that your management team is still eligible for the same salary increases and bonuses that were common when times were good. Imagine also, that the management team got to keep their executive health package and that they routinely attend training programs, seminars, and conferences in many locations around the U.S. and the world.
How would these factors affect the morale of your employees not to mention their loyalty to their company and its leadership team? Would they still be willing to endure the sacrifices they have been asked to make? Would they still be committed to the long-term best interests of your organization?

We all know, at least at an intellectual level, that such decisions on the part of management would have huge consequences with respect to their ongoing relationship with their people. No doubt many would begin looking for new opportunities.

Now, let us take a step back and think about the current reality about the way the federal government, particularly Congress and the executive branch, treat the American people at the low end of the economic continuum.

Whether these Americans are minimally employed, unemployed, on welfare or disability, depend on Medicaid or Medicare, or are on a fixed retirement income that depends almost totally on Social Security; every time the government feels the need to reduce spending it is the people in this group that are asked to take the hit. How do you think these people feel when Congress refuses to even consider asking the wealthy to pay a little more in taxes.

These Americans cannot get decent healthcare for their families, ObamaCare not with-standing, while they read about the extravagant health plan that Congress creates for themselves and their families. They also read that virtually every other developed nation on the planet considers healthcare to be a right of citizenship and provides comprehensive healthcare and prescription drugs for their people.
In the interim the poor, the unemployed, and the underemployed citizens of what is considered to be the richest and most powerful nation in the history of the world are asked to believe in an American dream that is little more than illusion to them.

These people are told to take advantage of the opportunities of this great nation and that an education is the ticket to the American dream. What these American know to be true is that getting a good education is a myth when they are asked to send their kids off to public schools that have embarrassing failure rates and that seem to chew their children up and spit them out.

As a result, these Americans no longer believe in the American dream and they no longer teach their children that the dream exists. Neither do they teach their children that getting an education is important and something for which they should work hard and make sacrifices. Not surprisingly, the children of these Americans arrive at their first day of school with precious little motivation to learn and are poorly prepared to succeed. Rather than accept responsibility as a partner with their children’s teachers and principals for the educational success of their children, these mothers and fathers look at school as a form of free day care that keeps the kids out of the house for eight hours a day, five days a week.

They see an educational process that is focused on failure. When their children struggle to understand their lessons, rather than take extra time to make sure their kids understand, they see their children pushed prematurely from one lesson to the next by teachers who do not seem to care. The result is that their children fall further and further behind until they are so hopelessly lost that they give up on themselves. They begin to lose all hope that they can catch up with their classmates and they learn quickly that the surest way not to suffer the humiliation of failure is to avoid participation. The rest of us sit back in indignation, clueless to the dynamics of this reality.

The parents of these children understand what their children are feeling because it is the very same thing they felt when they were still in school. As a result they refuse to cooperate with their children’s teachers because they view those teachers as adversaries and as tellers of lies; as so-called professionals who simply cannot be trusted to do what is best for their children.

As this cycle of failure repeats itself semester after semester and year after year, why do we seem surprised that these children grow up and give birth to a whole new generation of children who are reared in an atmosphere of hopelessness and powerlessness.

Other Americans become frustrated with these people because they rarely exercise their right to vote and seem unwilling to accept the responsibilities of citizenship. We cannot quite comprehend that these Americans feel this way because they have absolutely no faith that their voices make a difference. As a result these men and women are effectively disenfranchised. They feel hopeless and powerless to control the outcomes in their own lives and in the lives of their children.

The rest of us point the finger at these Americans, never fully comprehending that the reality in which these Americans live and endure is one that exists solely as a consequence of our own actions; of the decisions and policies of people who view themselves as leaders of the free world.

As we have pointed out in earlier posts, we are fast approaching a tipping point in which mainstream Americans can no longer bear the weight of the poor, the uneducated, the hopeless, the powerless, and the disenfranchised. As we sit by in our blissful ignorance and self-righteousness, that tipping point is rushing at us at the speed of desperation.