Why the title?

"Pioneers take the arrows"

Oh, wait. I should be upbeat and taking arrows doesn't sound like an upbeat thing to say.

So, let me amend that statement.

It was courage and vision that led the pioneers to leave behind a comfortable, settled life and trek West to begin a new life in a new place. Many of those from the East that went West found a strength within themselves that they didn't see while they were in their old life. Instead of being one of those that just kind of went along with the others in the old life, they became leaders and visionaries in their new lives.

The sentiments of that last paragraph come from a favorite author, Louis L'Amour, in many of his books. So, I can't really say that it is an original thought from me. However, what he said is truthful.

Welcome to being a pioneer. Look ahead and ignore the "barking dogs" that give you negative opinions and comments. Louis L'Amour also spoke of the barking dogs.

In some of his stories, it was usually a father or older man telling a young boy how it was that when the Westward bound Conestoga wagons rolled through towns, the dogs came out to bark at them. His character then told the young listener that the barking didn't stop the wagons from going on to their destinations.

Following the advice of the Louis L'Amour characters, may we all forge ahead with our plans, after carefully considering all consequences and leave the "barkers" behind.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The 800 Pound Educational Gorilla

An east coast radio talk show host by the name of Neal Boortz has been discussing the 800 pound gorilla lately. He has put this gorilla into the context of being present in the voting booths of America. I am just about to say that I believe he is right.

Neal’s references are to the fact that the 800 pound gorilla is the American education system and that it manages to educate most of the people to the point of being just smart enough to be a “good” employee and “subjects of the state.” He is referring to the point at which a poorly educated individual walks into a voting booth without enough knowledge to adequately analyze the traits and characteristics of a political candidate to make a good choice.

I had a recent example of the horror of an education where one does not learn critical thinking, thus leading to following the propaganda of the media and the claims of the candidates themselves.

In a discussion with a co-worker, a lady only a few years younger than me, the subject of some previous employees of our same state agency having left to go to work for private companies. They are doing that because Oklahoma is trying to consolidate the IT departments of all the state agencies under one “Chief Information Officer,” or CIO.

Somehow in the discussion, she said that she did not like private industry. I told her that I think she needed to develop a love for the private industry. When she asked me why, I told her that it was the employees of private industry that paid her salary.

With a blank look in her eye, I explained that if all the government employees were to look at their W-2 forms and see the major difference between their gross pay and their contributions to the state income tax, they would see that there was no way that government employees could possibly contribute enough to the state to pay their own state salaries. If not for private industry employees, governments could not function at all.

Sadly, the sorry education system also contributes to managers and supervisors in the government system being woefully inadequate to do their jobs right. Having had decades of supervisory and management experience, I’ve looked at the “managers” of just the division of the state agency that I work in and they are not up to snuff.

Recently, a new “policy” was enacted to see how it would work, one that will lead to massive extra expenses for paper and printer toner to print those documents they feel they have to have. When I suggested an alternative, instead of a “Thanks, Terry, we’ll certainly consider that,” I saw an upper manager hurriedly go into our supervisor’s office and within 10 minutes we were having a meeting.

I was told in that meeting that “management” had already considered that as an option and it didn’t qualify as an option that one of the managers had decided needed to be accomplished. I then offered yet another option in that meeting, one that wouldn’t require any extra printing and I was summarily told that my idea wouldn’t work because they didn’t have the time to train the staff to do the option.

In reality, with the proper scanners in place, it would take about 10 minutes per employee (at the most) to train them in the actions to take and create a document that could be stored on the agency imaging system (something like microfiche, I think.)

At no time did any of management discuss the suggestions with me.  They were simply dismissed out-of-hand.

That last manager is also one that communicates with us (the employees) via e-mail in what is usually only a two sentence “edict” with absolutely no explanations as to why. When I question her about a detail, there is no critical thinking on her part and I usually just get another one sentence edict.

The upper manager that initiated the department meeting (but did not attend) KNOWS that I have enough management experience to surpass the experience of three of their managers in total, and very possibly, I may have more experience than she has. I’m getting the feeling from her recent actions that maybe she is intimidated by me.

I am thus at the stage of very seriously considering retiring from the state. I would imagine that my blood pressure would improve, however it still concerns me that our state agency is so full of inadequate managers. Just consider that the same condition may very well apply with every state agency, not only in Oklahoma, but everywhere else as well.

We apparently have poorly educated and poorly trained managers populating government. Is it any wonder that government does so poorly in performance and efficiency?

Until this nation can effectively address the woeful education systems, with a particular emphasis on doing away with the federal Education Department, we are unlikely to see a reversal in the trend in the educations of our children and grandchildren. Is it such a wonder that so many want to home-school their own children?

So far as I am concerned the only advantage to the federal Education Department is that it is a single source for the teacher’s unions to lobby instead of having to lobby 50 state education departments and countless local school boards. If we as citizens don’t take back power from useless government entities, we will suffer in the long run.

Gorilla as Educational Disparity

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