Monday, January 18, 2016

I Know You Are, But What Am I?

“Highly inefficient, if not immoral.” That is a phrase that brings to mind many different kinds of bad behavior and debauchery. From Lamar Odom’s weekend in Vegas to the Ram’s moving to Los Angeles my mind runs wild. My mind does NOT turn to the decisions made by Kansas school board members on behalf of our students. Reasonable minds might differ on what is inefficient, but moral judgments reach a higher level and should not be made lightly.  

A dictionary definition of the word leaves out the emotion, simply stating, “relating to what is right and wrong in human behavior.” In popular usage, the word is emotion and value-laden. Great minds have written broadly on the subject of moral behavior. In practice, it is an emotion-laden term that gets personal fast.

The first draft of this blog, which was written Wednesday morning after the State of the State Speech, was pretty snarky. When the speech forwarded the idea that school board members make immoral decisions it did not sit well with me. My first reaction was a lengthy diatribe that upon further review could be summed up with what my sister used to say to me, “I know you are, but what am I.”

It’s a great way to aggravate your younger brother, but it doesn’t really advance the discussion. Being more mature, when my grandmother had to intervene in these nanny, nanny, boo boo fights, we had to sit down for what she called “devotionals.” For a ten-year-old boy on a farm with horses to ride, creeks to dam, forts to build, and kittens to catch, this was worse punishment than a beating from Adrian Peterson.

So my sister and I would be forced to read and discuss Mathew 5:39 “whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well” or Thessalonians 5:15 “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.” At the time, I was seething and didn’t much care for the message, kind of like I was Wednesday morning. But this morning when I was out for a morning run the words came back to me. I will take my grandma's advice and not my 10-year-old self's.

The business of educating Kansas students is too important for pettiness, name-calling, and snark.  Sure it is fun, but it doesn’t advance the cause of education in Kansas. So let’s knock it off. Thanks to the Kansas State Board of Education, we have a new vision for Kansas education. Now we have to decide what we want from our schools, and how we pay for it. Can we focus on that instead of making policy by anecdote and trying to find problems for ready-made solutions? The Kansas State Board did it; can school leaders and the leaders in Topeka do it?

The day of the state of the state speech, an alliance of The United School Administrators, Kansas School Superintendents Association, Kansas National Education Association, and Kansas Association of School Boards issued a statement asking for a partnership with the Governor and Legislature to improve Kansas public education.  <http://www.kasb.org/wcm/_NB/16/NB0112b.aspx>   Let’s cut the political rhetoric and focus on what Kansas students need from their schools and how to pay for it.

(For an analysis of the 65% idea, please check out Ted Carter's Blog  http://kasbresearch.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-myth-of-65.html)

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