Able leaders police and protect

Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:

● The 12-page booklet of fulsome praise for former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall distributed just before the final cheating scandal report was released is a reminder of why we should not name public buildings, roads, bridges, parks or other facilities for the living — especially living politicians.

● One strange twist of the scandal’s fallout is the assertion that consequential testing is to blame for the corruption that seeped through Atlanta Public Schools on Hall’s watch. That’s a cop-out and an effort to shift responsibility for the absence of ethics among the college-educated middle class, from molders of children’s minds and character, to “the system.” Testing made us do it. And what, in another institution’s scandal, made priests do it?

● If I read Beverly Hall’s “sincere apology” correctly, she’s a victim. If, unbeknownst to her, the system corrupted during her fine stewardship, she’s sorry. Every corporation and institution — including, as Britain’s News of the World newspaper scandal reveals, the media — has individuals who lack integrity. Competent leaders police and protect, lest the lack of integrity spreads and, ultimately, destroys public trust in the institution or brand.

● There are three possible explanations, none attractive, for Hall’s professed ignorance of cheating: 1) Every leader has the option of entering into a fool’s bargain with one or more subordinates to exchange “in my name” power and influence for no-questions-asked enforcement. “Don’t tell me things I shouldn’t know, just get it done.” 2) She was a glad-hander who allowed the system in key areas to run itself. 3) The final possibility is that she did know.

● This deficit-reduction, debt-ceiling stand-off in Washington is a crucial test for Republicans. President Barack Obama knows that George H.W. Bush lost the presidency because he violated the trust of fiscal conservatives by breaking the “read my lips” pledge. Obama’s best hope for re-election is to recreate that split among Republicans, the tea party and independents. Both Bush 41 and Ronald Reagan discovered that you can’t trade taxes now for promises of future cuts in spending increases. The taxes are real. The promises aren’t. In this administration, yesterday’s words are shooting stars.

● Bad news, bad news. The value of your home in DeKalb County falls. To ensure that government is not affected, four members of the County Commission raised property taxes 26 percent — a $50 million per year transfer of wealth. Warning to politicians: People are not nailed down.

● Georgia Republicans, it is said, might consider moving the transportation sales tax referendum from the July 31 primaries to the General Election, when more Democrats are likely to turn out. Any Republican who votes to stack that deck in any such manner should be among those that voters turn out. This notion of scheduling elections to produce desired outcomes is manipulative and offensive. It’s evidence that those in power don’t trust voters. Republicans should not travel that road.

● It’s no secret that physicians practice defensive medicine, fearing litigation and juries of the sort that make trial lawyers rich. But now this desire to find somebody with deep pockets responsible for every bad thing that happens to us or for every bad habit we have, especially that of overeating, prompts the National Restaurant Association to launch a national campaign with menu offerings to fight childhood obesity. It may simply be smart marketing, but you can’t help but think it’s defensive — an effort to prevent frivolous lawsuits filed by adults seeking money or the imposition of their values on an industry.

56 comments Add your comment

Craig Spinks/ Augusta

July 19th, 2011
4:34 am

Jim, the title of piece is “right on the mark.”

Even Geraldine didn’t believe that “the Devil made me do it.”

A leader without character is analogous to a Ferrari without an engine: in each, the former cannot operate without the latter.

Glenn

July 19th, 2011
9:10 pm

himey @1142 Hours 7/17 in ref 1033 about an hour before:

Bloody obviously public schoolchildren are “dumbed down”, are stunted, stultified, mindscrewed and enraged by the schooling process every day, despite the temperament, training and talent of a good number of true teachers. So what is the force so countervailing a child’s instinct to grow and a teacher’s instinct to guide in that growth? What particulates actually constitute the liquid of this headwater for salmon who either die outright, die in the trying, or else die later only for having spawned stronger, more servile and brave Overfish bred to feed their elders to the Bears? A sick dynamic in all of this.

Which is calling the shots here (rank in importance 1-through-5, five the most)? Is the State calling the shots? Are America’s cultural values to so? Should our engineers of the U.S. Economy control? Should the controllers be parents, guardians–elder family? Should business leaders or senior military brass or union bosses decide? Perhaps technical experts in pedagogy should call the shots. Perhaps members of a local comunity. Perhaps test publishers should do, or maybe newspaper editors or judges or clerics enrobed. Perhaps each pupil as she may, catch-as-catch-can (from which one allegedly my view Russia on a good day)

Just please rank each of these, on a simplistic five-point scale, and report to me your total as I’ll correspondingly tell you mine. Then, let’s compare notes, not on the proximity of our calculli, merely, but on how this nation so quickly came to construe “Education” as such a strangely pinched commodity defined, purveyed and legitimated by so few. Even just 100 years ago the cleverest Americans would not have guessed that the public educational enterprise would be caught in a French Triangle of Business and the Political Left and Right.

the matter was more sacrosanct then.

Glenn

July 20th, 2011
1:12 am

or must we ever push ack against your ancient world pushing by now two generations back in stupid hatred. In my favorite pool bar, in my day, we’d have beat you all bayside for insulting anyonne the way you do, would have taken your woemen and eaten that of the best of your dinners which we ourselves had catched, then and again.

JIM U AND THE TEA BAGGERS CAN GET OUT NOW!

July 20th, 2011
1:44 am

JIM YOU AND THE RACISTS CRACKERS LEFT OUT HOW THE GOP LIKES TO KEEP THE BLACKS AND WHITES DUMB IN THE SOUTH!
ITS THE RACISTS WHITES IN THE SOUTH THAT CUT EDUCATION FUNDS MAINLY THE GOP!
WHO CUTS THE HOPE PROGRAM? RACISTS REDNECK GOP!
GOD IS FINALLY GOING TO DEAL WITH YOU REDNECK SATAN CHILDREN!
WHY ARE THE INDIANS,ARABS,ASIAN,HISPANICS AND AFRICANS UPRISING AGAINST THE WHITEMAN? BECAUSE EVERYBODY HAS WOKE UP TO THE EVIL THE WHITE IS UP TO!

Glenn

July 20th, 2011
5:10 am

While it seems constructive of you to assume these personae, obviously your assumption of them is fond. It’s been a part of Georgia’s history (I know that I’ve learned a lot about deep-down seriousness of the drop-dead-you’re gone) for some time, but either change your step or quit is the word.

Glenn

July 20th, 2011
5:22 am

anyway, the best I could give this time, and I mostly mean it.