Tuesday, October 21, 2014


     In every human activity, where expected outcomes become serious goals that are considered important to the continued progress of a society, a business or an organization, expectations--be they visions or goals--guide activity, establish desired qualities of performance and assesses to determine the products' levels of quality:  The refining of oil, evolution of smart telephones, break-throughs in medical science, improved performances of automobiles, development of renewable energy sources and the development of the most potent military force the world has ever known are examples of expectations guiding the monitoring and assessing of both the quality and feasibility of processes
     However, despite these examples of expectations setting in motion the kinds of activities that spawn new ideas that sometimes challenge and sometimes support established thoughts about matters having implications for the American people, these best practices have not been evident in attempts to address the problems facing those schools which are drowning in the seas of what in many cases appear to be "designed" poor performance.  School boards of too many districts have no strategic plans--that they can share with the community--for educating children within their schools.  No written expectations are written for superintendents in terms of performance expectation of subordinates and subsequent teacher and student performances.  These boards have no written instruments for periodic evaluations of neither itself, the superintendent, assistant superintendents, principals, supervisors, teachers or students.  They communicate no meaningful vision and goals, and no strategies for their achievement.  Consistent with board and superintendent expectations, boards seem to have no ways to evaluate and modify implemented strategies.      
     Representative board members never sit in on superintendent staff meetings with district administrators so they can hear discussions about expectations, strategic successes, failures and adjustments and followups--or they never report when they do.  There seem to be no attention to academic performances by students and instruction performance by down line instructional leaders.  Problem-solving seems to be absent.  Focus and follow-ups on problems at all levels seems absent or rarely discussed.     Representative board members and the superintendent similarly should sit in on principal faculty meetings.  Some visitations should be announced and some unannounced.  Everyone is more likely to perform better and seek help trying to perform better when they are expected to discuss demonstrate evidence or either proficient or improved performance.
     The best and most interested parental and community representation should have access to academic and performance expectations at all levels of teaching and supervision.  Frequent assessments of student performances should corroborate findings concerning administrator and teacher performances and the recommendations that grow out of those performances.  Teachers should expose student to the kinds of questions students will face on state assessments.  Sample question should be provided by the state.  These would provide models for teachers and other instructional leaders who are responsible for developing such effective tests.
      To the extent that increased monitoring brings expectations about student performances into better focus, it should not result in unnecessary or unreasonably increased tensions on educators at any level.  What would be intended is discovering shortcomings and establishing practical levels of awareness and rectification at each level of instructional leadership and various levels of student performance.
     One board meeting each month should be devoted to communicating instructional initiatives and outcome in terms of student performances.  The discussions should validate district academic goals or redirect the distric'ts attention to better ways to achieve goals that are going unmet, and the need to clarify goals or establish new ones.  Feed-back from previous meetings should provide the foundation to identify educator and student goals for the following--or remainder of current--school year.  The community should have opportunities to provide input into the process to supplement the board's  and superintendent's ideas or provide ideas  concerning additional goals that should be pursued.   The goals ultimately should give rise to visions for the district which may give rise to more appropriate goals.  Goal-identification, pursuit and assessments become part of a culture of professional renewal in an environment of high expectations, cooperation and professional gratification.
     A reasonable time-line should be established for the board, superintendent and subordinate administrators to develop plans detailing how they will help their subordinates improve their levels of performance in carrying out the expectations of their job descriptions.  An ombudsman, who could never become superintendent--who will attend all meeting--participate in all meetings and would seek to synchronize the efforts of all levels of supervision.  His or her opinion would weigh heavily in determining who will be promoted to higher levels of administration or who should be demoted to lower levels before again seeking higher positions.
     An auto dealer would not be able to get away with simply blaming the poor performance of a car he sold on the quality of the gasoline the car owner bought.  Similarly, the poor academic performances by students is not always--or ever entirely due to--poor parenting by parents.
Can schools ever perform a efficiently as an oil refinery. or the latest high-performance auto?  How can we know if we don't try?  And can we ever blame students and parents if we fail to try our hardest?  This discourse is an attempt to garner a community commitment to seriously efforts to make all of our schools the best they can be by making our children and our educators the best they can be.
     Industry can help the process by lending its expertise about quality control to schools by serving on school boards and providing employment opportunities to district students and, thereby, providing additional incentives for students to aim for academic excellence.  Tax abatements for industry should be tied to academic performances and levels of employment of local youth and their parents by such businesses.
     But unfortunately none of these can happen, not because they are impossible but because a culture of mediocrity has become accepted within the communities that have  failing schools.    Low expectations breed low performances by both educators and students.  Those within the community who could provide leadership are often among those who have "overcome" and choose not to chance jeopardize their "connections" by trying to change the status quo.
     It is hard to understand how one of the nation's oldest profession--that of educating children--which has been around in America for hundreds of years, can show so little progress toward providing opportunities for all American children to have at least as much access to a high quality education as they have to a quality automobile or telephone.  How children are motivated to learn should be common place by now.  Expecting, providing, administering and properly supervising quality education should be showing the same kinds of progress as have other pursuits within the American culture.  Why steady progress in education has not been forthcoming in America is yet another issue about which serious national conversations should be had on a continual basis.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Identify, Model and Reward High Quality Educators

     Cars, telephones, computers, airplanes, medical practice and many other human activities are increasing in quality on a continuing basis.  Why not education?  Because, too often, educators must produce a better quality student using raw material that resist being improved.  But the fact is the materials scientists and engineers manipulate to produce better quality products, when they are not dealt with properly, also resist being transformed.   The problem, then, is that many educators have not learned how to deal properly with their resources: students and other educators. Effective teaching is the hardest job; that is, (1) if educators are expected to be successful in the education of children, and (2) if school districts fail to have proper perspectives about what kinds and levels of expectations constitute success.
     Quality education is a product of quality teaching.  But exactly what is meant by quality education?  And how can it be accomplished?  In most schools there are quality teachers who could be model teachers.  Some learned what it means to be model teacher--and how to become model teachers--in teaching-training classes devoted to instilling such knowledge.  Some taught themselves over years of thoughtful trial and error.  Some quality teachers learned through thoughtful consideration of factors which cause students to gain, retain or lose interest in learning the courses these teachers teach.  
     Why are students more successful under certain teachers?  What is happening at all professional levels of education within states and school districts that create better and more creative educators?
     One of the first things I heard, during those trying years of getting my feet wet in the teaching profession, was that a "good" principal must first have been a "good" teacher.  One must conclude that a "good" superintendent--who hopefully also was once a good principal--must also have been a good teacher and therefore knows what kinds of things should be going on down the chain of command that leads to successful students.  If principals were not good teachers, are they able to communicate appropriate expectations to their teachers?  What expectations would superintendents communicate to their assistant superintendents, principals and other instructional leaders?  Unless principals had once been "good" teachers--and superintendents, good principals--how can they know (or recognize) when expectations are reasonable, when they are being achieved by subordinates,  and what to suggest to assist subordinates who really want to become "good" at what they do?
   Teachers will differ in their abilities to be creative in developing effective teaching strategies they toward fulfilling their responsibility and desires to be quality teachers.  But even those who are not so creative in developing effective strategies can implement effective strategies if they know what they are, what the performance expectations are, and are helped--or taught how--to Implement the strategies.  Teachers who know what things to do and why they are done will better understand and identify with the teaching and learning processes they are expected to use.  What is true of teachers also applies to every other educator within the district.  
     How, then, can model educators be produced and made available at all administrative and instructional levels?
     Enabling educators to become "good" at all levels requires that school boards become knowledgeable about expectations at all levels within the chain of command, recognizing and communicating expectations, and monitoring executions at all levels.  This means school board must be educated, not only by their interactions teachers and administrators, but also with community leaders, parents and even students: We can seek the benefits of student ingenuity while students are in public schools--before they go off to make "big bucks," pursuing various wealth-building opportunities in the business world, not in education.
     But something can be done about that.
     Education will never keep up with the progress and demands of technology and medicine--nor with the needs of a society because of that progress and those demands--without the kinds of education that born of the same levels of intelligence and financial rewards.  Levels of economic and political empowerment are related to levels of educational knowledge and achievement.  Average people cannot become outstanding educators without being self-motivated to pursue a path of (or at least toward) excellence or unless they, themselves, have high quality teachers either as models or as teacher-training instructors, at all levels of education: in colleges and universities whose professors teach and train public school educators. 
     Does genius that solves problems on a technological nature lend itself to creative pursuits in education?  In other words, can talent only pursue innovations consistent with some innate qualities when money activates initiatives or can talent be directed in directions of need, where needs motivates rather than predisposition.
     Well, all of this prelude is intended the set the framework for raising the quality of teaching in all schools to the same high levels of quality.  If students are required to master the same curriculum, students should have the same levels and qualities of instruction by teachers who use methods that are equally effective.  How do we do that?  One way may be by using the ideas suggested in this column as a basis for beginning in-school, in-school district and in-community discussions and problem-solving initiatives related to educating children.  Using the best educators as role models and making video tapes of their use of effective strategies should be available to teachers and administrators according to their need for assistance.  These model ducators should be paid consistent with the success they have displayed in their own teaching and in improving the skills of less proficient  teachers and administrators, consistent with district definition of what it means to be a high-quality educator.
     If we assume that more intelligent people make better problem solvers, then education must attract a larger percentage of our most intelligent students into the teaching profession, and we must enable them to earn what they could earn in other professions.  What can cause these to happen?  parents and patrons who are committed to making sure (1) that those who are elected to school boards are the most competent and caring members available, and (2) that those who are qualified are not hindered in their efforts to improve the quality of education the district's expectations.  
     The consequence of not choosing quality leadership for school boards is that qualified people stop seeking school board positions.  Voters don't know for whom they should be voting--and why--because community leaders, including many church leaders, don't cooperate and keep their memberships sufficiently informed and involved about elections that effect the futures of their children and grandchildren.  Too often, even essential community leaders and their organizations for various reasons remain silent, uninvolved and, foo often, uninvited. 
     How can processes that provide quality education for all children be started?  Only if the community of parents, businesses, and organizations are disturbed enough about inferior education to say on behalf of the district's children,  "(We're) mad as hell, and (we're) not going to take it anymore."   But a community must care enough about its children before it can become mad enough.  For the African American community, such failure to care enough reflects a degree of self-rejection.  But these are recipes for familial, educational, financial failure and communal extinction.

Email: rcspoon@earthlink.net
Blog:  ronaldcspooner.blotspot.com

Redefining What It Means to "March"

     On March 18, 2013, the nation observed and commemorated the 50th anniversary of the March, 1963 march on Washington.  The rhythm of Dr. king's speech still causes
 chills to run up my spine.  The changes about which Dr. King dreamed were shown to be well on the road to reality with the 2008 election of Barack Obama to the American presidency.   Unfortunately, that event, which was the crowning achievement of the nation's march toward equality--though still short on justice and jobs for thousands of Americans who needed and wanted work--became rallying points for those determined to turned back the clock on change and assure that the dream remained only a wish.  "Yes, we can" has given way to a "No, you can't" response by many conservative Republicans, unmoved by change, and yearning for the good ole' days. Nevertheless, the march on Washington had coalesced visions of equality and justice.  It gave rise to new levels of hope, dignity and possibilities.  
     But it was much like the earlier million-men march led by Minister Louis Farrakhan,  where black men, too, were inspired by the importance, even the serenity, of a momentous moment,  but were also sent home without a strategy for using the emotion of the moment as a stimulus for moving forward, and, hence, without the ability to build on what was a momentous gathering of men.
     Every year, marches are conducted across the nation, commemorating past marches, extolling the achievements of Dr. KIng, and, on the 19th of June, celebration of the emancipation of black people from slavery.  But there seems to never be community-wide themes that reminded the black community that the "dream" has not yet been realized, that the quality of education in predominately black schools is still inferior and, partly as a consequence, opportunities for meaningful employment is far from being equal.  One might conclude that black people had overcome these realities, with nothing left to do but march for fun, recall precious memories and act as if there were not many black people who still had not overcome.  
     This is not to belittle the efforts of those who lead these efforts each year.  They serve purposes that have places worthy of recognition in the quest of black people to overcome the educational and economic gaps that are pervasive in Black America.  They just don't help black people overcome those conditions which can only be overcome by activities that directly impact the problems, activities that no one who is not black should be expected to provide. 
     In his speech during the commemoration of the King marches, President Obama talked about another kind of "march," marches not limited to walking the streets and waving signs.  He talked about businesses that are creating jobs that hire unemployed but qualified black people also march.  That new kind of "marching" means that parents who are seeing to it that their children spend adequate time at home reading, studying, solving problems and otherwise doing homework are also marching.  Children who welcome and heed their parent attempts to help them prepare for a better futures "march," not only in the streets, but in the classrooms.  Black educators also "march" who go back to college, when necessary, to broaden their knowledge of the courses they teach, to sharpen their teaching strategies and to broaden their instructional options so they can enable their students to maximize learning.  He was talking about marches and marchers who don't expect other people to do for black people what only black people can do for ourselves.
     One black leader said during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, "No one can save us for us but us."  For the past fifty years that statement, which should have been the rallying cry for a greater effort toward self-determination and self-actualization by black people, instead has become more of a forecast of doom, as we have not pursued an agenda of black pride, black-motivation, black encouragement, and development of positive self-images deserving of self-love, commitments to valuing oneself, striving for self-improvement and learning to love ourselves because we have reason to do so.  
     Another black man, the late William Raspberry, had said it another way when he wrote in a column that black people who choice to place their futures in the hands of people, many of whom they fear don't like them, is like placing their "salvation in the hands of the devil."  
     The Congress that President Obama has had to deal with is not the same kind of Congress that President Lyndon Johnson had.  But what black people need is a whole lot more than what is being provided by our black institutions and organizations.  'Marching" has to be more than what is happening within our black churches, more than is happening in many, if not most, of our public schools, especially those predominately African American schools where expectations for student performance are low.  And it is happening because in too many homes of black families, many just don't know what to do, and don't know how to find out.  Too often black leaders are "marching" either to the beat of strange drummers or simply "marching" to the wrong beat.
     It will be interesting to see what those who attended this 50th anniversary of the Dr. king's "I have a dream" speech--or followed it on television--did after they got back home in terms of pursuing the dream, about how each black community will begin proceedings to do its part toward making the Dr. King's dream for us come true.  We can't continue to expect other people to do more for us and care more about us than we do for ourselves.  People who don't place much value on their own lives can't be expected to place much value of the lives of other people who look like themselves.  Liking ourselves require not only a different kind of "march" but a different kind of walk and a different kind of talk.
     Affirmation Action, for example, was not just for those individuals who benefitted directly at the time:  It was also for the generations of offsprings that would follow the initial beneficiaries:  Children who are reluctant about studying would be cautioned about that time in the future when affirmation might no longer be the law, when people would be hired to high-paying jobs or be admitted to high-demand Universities based on qualities other than past denials of equal opportunities because of racial discrimination.    Affirmative action not only gave black men and women opportunities to better prepare themselves: It put them in positions to be better family providers, better role models and mentors for their children, as their children and future generations were enabled to have more productive and satisfying futures.
       So marches, be they the new kinds of "marches" or like those effective marches of the mid sixties, they must keep black people mindful that  "the dream" is not dead, that it's just not yet fully realized, and that its full realization will depend more on what black people do for ourselves than what other people can be do for us.  Our only hope is that other people--if they aren't going to help--
 will not deliberately set up road and stumbling blocks that hinder the dreamers' journey.
     A new year presents opportunities for new resolutions by black people to redefine what it means to march.   But one crucial question continues to linger about this new "march" toward realizing "The "Dream":  To what drummers and drumbeats will black leaders and  black organizations "march"?
EMail:  rcspoon@earthlink.net
Blog:    ronaldcspooner.blogspot.com

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Governing with What We have and Who We Are

    President Obama, congressional Democrats and congressional Republicans must do what is best for the United States at this time.  Democrats wish they had congressional Republicans like Tip O'neil had, and Republican wish they had congressional Democrats like Ronald Reagan had.  But that is not the kind of congress we have.  It not the kind of congress most Americans thought they they elected but apparently it's the kind of candidates they voted for.  If voters believe they have made a mistake, they have the next election to make it right.
     President Obama is a principled person who wants to do the right thing and not set precedents for future presidents that are detrimental to the stability and proper functioning of freedom and the ultimate will of the people in the American democracy.  But he must deal with today's Congress, and let future presidents deal with the circumstances and expectations of future voters and members of Congress.   Because Obama capitulates to some demands of Republicans today does not mean that future congressional politicians will successfully use future threats to make unreasonable political and economic demands nor does it mean that future Presidents will be required to capitulate with unreasonable politican demands during their times.
     The President not only are the times different, but he is different.  He is a black president.  And while that is considered a good thing and a proud achievement for most Americans, skin color was not something that Tip O'Neil and Ronald Reagan had to deal with.  Unless Obama deal properly with present-day circumstances, it may be a long time before a person of color is elected to the presidency, not because the American people will not want one but because of fear that the politician climate not accommodating such diversity.
     President Obama must make decisions that are appropriate to these times and rest assured that future presidents and congresses will make decisions deemed appropriate for their times.  If the people want universal health care, voters will place control of the presidency and Congress in the hands of Democrats.  If a majority of voters don't want it,  they will elect Republicans to lead the government, and Obamacare may be overturned.  
    What the people choose, whether for better or worse, will always represent who Americans--and the people they choose to represent them--are at that time.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sometimes Political "Blinking" Is a Good Thing

     There was a time when it was believed that when congressional pollticians got together to solve a problem that involved compromising that the meetings needed to occur in secret so politicians would not be afraid to make statements or vote for positions that might be objectionable back home.  They could decide on what they thought  was right for the country.  But that is no longer the case:  They are meeting behind closed doors but not reaching a compromises or solutions.
     Both parties should  be required to discuss the contested issues on C-span.  The people need to know (1) what the issues being discussed, (2) what solutions are being proposed by each parties and party members, (3) what are the arguments are favoring each proposal,  (4) what the argument are against each proposal, (5) what compromises are being proposed, (6) what examples or expert opinions support each position taken opposing or favoring contested ideas.  (Have the experts present during debates to contest and correct incorrect information or statements.
     The parties pick only an uneven number of experts with whom they agree.  And let the experts debate and vote.  Agree to accept the decision of the experts.
     As a last resort, develop a way to resolve deadlocks.  Examples: (1) Flip a coin on each contended item.  Or (2) Where appropriate, have each party prioritized a list of preferences related to each controversial issue.  Flip a coin to determine who gets the first choice.  The loser gets topic its second and third choices, the winner the fourth and fifth choices, etc., with the loser getting the final pick.
     Each party should have a publicly-expressed strategy for settling congressional deadlocks.  Voters might be asked to vote for they one they prefer and expect the parties to follow.
Are you willing to compromise? and will you compromise where possible and necessary?  These are questions every candidate for public office should be required to answer either yes or no
     Listing to answers to questions raised during the Sunday talk shows, I conclude that Democrats are almost as guilty as Republicans in contributing to the present deadlock.  Both sides say that want to "have a conversation".  Democrats say they are "willing to discuss anything."  But when Democrats are asked about making adjustment to entitlements, Democrats say that is not on the table.  When Republicans are asked about raising revenues, Republicans say revenues are not one the table.  Each side wants to have a discussion but just not consider what the other side considers important.
     A Republican senator from Wyoming said that we are spending too much money on people who   aren't able to take care of themselves.  He suggested that their conditions are primarily their own fault.  He used used the analog of making people who are doing well financially are being punished by have to pull a wagon which is getting heavier with an increasingly large load of passengers and a decreasing number of people able to pull the wagons due to increased in their taxes.  There is some merit to that argument.  But poor education increases the number of people in the wagon, and it reduces the number of people who could be pulling the wagon.  Also promoting job creation would increase the number of people pulling the wagon and reduce the number of people who are riding.
     Finally, extending the debt-limit deadline will not merely "kick the can down the road."  That time could be used to reach compromises on all of the controversial issues.  Each side should submit a publicly released plan for compromise.  If there is still deadlock over the issues at that time, we will be no worse off than where we are now.  But the issues will have been discussed, any possibility for compromise dismissed, and voters will have a better barometer for deciding how to vote next year.
     There eventually comes a time when the right combination of event and people cause a disaster.  Trains will wreck.  Car tires will blow-out.  Buses will run off cliffs.  Airplanes will crash.  In each case the reason for the accident can be determined, but it will not make that driver more attentive, or those tires stronger, or the airplane malfunction or whatever the cause may be.  What we are witnessing in Congress appears to be an avoidable disaster.  But we may have a collection of congress members whose dispositions will not allow the members change their actions anymore than the bus driver could stay awake or the trains could avoid being on the same section of tracK at the same time.  The difference is that this wreck has not yet happened.  We've been warned sufficiently in advance that two trains are headed for a collision.   The wreck can be averted, just not by these two train engineers and conductors.  Something is missing within America's political and economic conflicts that seem to occur despite there being obvious solution options.  What can be done?
      President Obama, as a Nobel Peace Award laureate, must be the nation's leader and world's hero by "caving in."   He was elected because his desire and promise to end deadlocks.  If his party won't help him, he must make the decision himself and let his party--and the Republicans--whether or not to follow him.  His position within the Democratically controlled Senate is no different from that John Boehner in the Republican controlled House, except that, as president, Obama has the greater responsibility.
     "Blinking" and "caving in" can be a good thing.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Orama's Moderation Not Appreciated

    Barack Obama ran for the presidency promising to reach across the isle to seek bipartisanship and end congressional deadlocks.   He said the people wanted an end to political gridlock.  Ending deadlocks meant both Democrats and Republicans must consent to compromise, and must seek and find contentment in common ground.  Even though Americans which helped him become President of the United States knew that Obama was not elected king--and, therefore, would not be able to bring an end to congressional gridlock all by himself--there was to be increased voter frustration with Obama's failure settle gridlocks by decree. 
     The voters seemed to recognize that the president would need congressional help when they gave him the necessary congressional support by giving Democrats control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.  But the majority in the Senate was not sufficient to overcome the reluctance of conservative Democrats--and one contrary liberal Democrat--to solidify Democratic congressional leadership and control.   Nevertheless,  voters made a good attempt: They gave Obama a good start.  However, despite the political successes under Democratic control, these successes were for the most achieved without the support of Republican politicians.  The potential for deadlock was still there.  And the enthusiasm which brought American voters (especially Democratic voters) to the polls during the presidential election of 2008 was not there in for midterm elections of 2012, when members of congress were vying for congressional positions. 
      Without the enthusiasm which accompanies elections when the president is on the ticket, Democrats lost the House of Representatives.  Democrats were the blame for not giving the midterm elections the same amount of attention, and not communicating to voters the importance of their returning to the polls to strengthen the Democrats' control of congress--and as it turns out, the need to strengthen Democratic influence in state governments.  I'm not aware of the number of Republicans who voted for Democrats during the 2008 and 2012 elections.  But polls have indicated that Americans of all political persuasions opposed congressional gridlock.  Most Republicans also believed in compromise.  Unfortunately, Republican members of Congress made their goal making Obama a one-term president.  No matter how important or good his ideas were, they would vote against them.  It was obvious who were the stumbling blocks, but Republican voters chose candidates who were committed to promoting exactly what the wanted President Obama to help end.  Their politics became more important than what they believed was in the best interest of the country and themselves.  People who wanted an end to gridlock essentially voted to continue it--in fact to extent it to the point of crippling government's ability to government.
     So, itt's gridlock time again in Washington.  Republicans are so sure the American Obamacare is a bad ideas for the American people that they are willing to shut down the government--and punish fellow Americans--in order to punish President Obama for trying to help people who need access to affordable health care, and for trying to cut the cost of health care in the United States.  Republicans say the don't want to shut down the government; they only want to delay the funding of Obamacare until appropriate changes can be made.  But what do Republicans want to change and what would they replace those element changed with?  Is that to be determined later?  Indefinitely later?  Gridlock is still here.  But Obama is not to blame.  
     Republican had input into the development of Obamacare.  They had chances to make suggestions for change before the final instrument was voted into law.  They refused to accept compromise by demanding changes which the President was not disposed to accept.  Establishing the Affordable Care Act was the idea of Democrats.  Hillary Clinton made an attempt during the Clinton presidency, and she a Barack Obama debated the issue during the 2008 presidential primaries.  Hillary had argued for a mandate that would force young people to participate in purchasing insurance.  Obama argued that they will buy health care insurance if it is cheap enough.  As president, Obama agreed with Hillary Clinton--and past Republicans--that the mandate was the better idea, and necessary to keep the insurance affordable for most Americans.  But because President Obama is now for the mandate, a reach across the isle, Republicans are no longer for it. 
      Democrats have opposed the President's desire to compromise with Republicans about entitlements reforms in exchange for Republican concessions about raising taxes on wealthy people.  That was another attempt to reach across the isle.  So whether its health care, Syria, attempts to grow jobs, increase middle class incomes, or fix Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security Obama has reached across the isle--and angered the leadership of both parties.  But it has become no longer a debate about the merits of positions on issues, but about some politicians' having their own way or fulfilling promises not to cooperate, not to compromise.
     The American people got what they say they wanted in a president.  They have to decide if the people they are sending to Washington and to our state governments to represent them have gotten the message.  The problem is that the people voters would like to represent them too often either won't run or aren't permitted to run. 
     When history should ever record how The United States of America became the late United States--and the world was cast into economic chaos--it likely will record that it began in 2013, an evidently bad-luck year, when congressional politicians refused to compromise on either on balancing spending and taxing or adjusting the Affordable Care Act,  the only areas where common ground exist and can be found.

Email:  rcspoon@earthlink.net
Blog:  ronaldcspooner.blogspot.com