Underneath the deluge of political money falling in Orlando, Columbus, Richmond, Des Moines and Colorado Springs swinging a General Election, Middle Eastern violence against the U.S., murdered diplomats and embassies under siege dwells a buried story of unlikely alliance.
Paul Ryan praised Rahm Emmanuel's quest for educational reform as the Chicago strike lost media steam compliments of torched American flags in Benghazi while the U.S. president played Vegas.
Leadership matters. We need it nationally; we need it locally.
From Portland the message came: "We know that Rahm is not going to support our campaign, but on this issue and this day we stand with Mayor Rahm Emanuel," remarked Ryan of the strike separating Illinois students from classrooms.
These are the children locked in often unremarkable schools on predictable trajectories, virtual hostages of, in this instance, a union which has blocked choice, burdened charters with regulatory hurdles, craved higher income in a city where the average teacher's salary is $76,000 and found handy collateral damage for pension demands: children who face narratives spun from early literacy levels swimming upstream in dismal U.S. statistics in science, technology, engineering and math.
Condi Rice calls the K-12 crisis the civil rights issue of our day, a detriment to national security and a threat to the fabric of America as we know it.
Argues Rice: " ... we need to give parents greater choice, particularly poor parents whose kids, very often minorities, are trapped in failing neighborhood schools."
Providing options for students is critical. Georgia's Casey Cagle knows this better than most. His relentless efforts behind the Georgia Career Academy Network (GCAN) seek career pathways in relevant fields available to all Georgia students in a few short years. The GCAN network has a "we can" approach to graduating young people with impressive industry credentials.
Colleges are building pipelines of dual credit pathways in both technical and academic programs. Articulation is tedious, painstaking, and necessary. Students are worth it.
Legislators in Georgia can't be overlooked. Legislation and policy revision have assisted parents with dollars for options -- even unaccredited home study and home school programs.
Rice says, "There is no country, no, not even a rising China, that can do more harm to us than we can do to ourselves if we do not do the hard work before us here."
School change is hard work. It calls for leadership tough and able, unabashed by retaliation and unashamed of truth, willing to tackle uncomfortable questions with unfriendly answers, and willing to show some the door.
Real change has no catchphrase; it is cultural, systemic, not motivated by fear. The results of fear in leadership for change are mediocrity and exodus. We are full up on that.
In "Good to Great," Jim Collins has done the research for us. Read about his leadership bus. That bus is coming around in November. Do we have the right people on board to mitigate the future Rice foreshadows?
Or is it time to make a stop and help them off?
Jeff Meadors may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.