Schools, Churches, Political Parties, Etc.
When I was young my Father explained to me what people meant when they used the word “politics”. According to him, politics was the art or science of guiding or influencing people. He told me politics was not a positive word or a negative word, it was just a fact of life. Politics, according to him, was everywhere people are trying to get something done.
Liberty Dispatch periodically will get comments sent in that are never posted because of how different the politics of institutions like school and church are than the politics LD’s main focus concentrates on. Some of the comments about schools or people running the schools in either the administration or on the school board are very worthwhile and legitimate topics for community conversation, but the politics surrounding “art or science of guiding or influencing” the education of our young people is usually an entirely different world from the politics involving full time paid elected officials.
The realization of the importance of educating young people and the current data on how it is done most effectively has caused LD to shy away from posting people’s critical analysis or most anything else about our schools. Current professional development in the area of mid management and superintendent level training tends to point to the “synergetic” leadership style as the one that is most likely to transform a community into the most it can be. That recommended style of leadership, synergism in public education, is something LD wants to promote, not hinder. Synergism’s effectiveness is undeniable when it is truly achieved. A school system that is truly practicing synergy is working together so well that it squeezes more out of all of those involved than it would seem possible. It promotes maximum participation by all and it can yield results that sometimes make social scientist compare it to making 1 + 1 = 3. It requires strong leaders that are professionals at listening and who are experts at diplomacy. Synergy is not a top down dictatorial method of leadership. In a school setting, it is an inclusive dynamic way of bringing in all of the resources and ideas of a community to make the school the best it can be.
Times are particularly tough for those who have made the personal sacrifice of giving up their time to serve on a school board and those who are leading a school or a school system. LD recognizes these tough economic times for public education in Texas should be treated by all of us as a time to show extra patience and understanding toward the people trying to “guide and influence” the schools. It is a time when we should all get on board when leadership tries something. We can disagree and recommend something else before a decision is made, but when our leaders commit to trying something, we should do all we can to make it work. If we want our schools to work, we will guard against the more traditional reaction of hoping to remove leaders who are making decisions we don’t agree with. In times like these, leaders may not have the options their critics think they do. The politics surrounding schools should be more of a collaborative effort than party politics.
Church politics are different also. Some would say, “There should be no politics in the church” but I am using that term like I defined above – the art of guiding or influencing people. Churches should have goals and standards or to use the rhetoric of the Bible, “dream and visions”. Churches that do not are likely to fail.
LD has occasional messages sent to us that have people wanting to air out a disagreement in a church. Again, we are unlikely to ever post such comments. The church has God as its head and He has an Under-shepherd or Pastor in charge at each church. Churches need to be in unity to be effective. They need to undergird, support, and pray for their Pastor. There may be some degree of democracy or even synergism. But ultimately the Pastor is called by God and the congregation should simply recognize his calling and yield to his leadership. Traditional “politicking” and building and forming coalitions to gain a majority to do something “your way”, can easily undermine the structure God has set up. The “government” He has set up in His church teaches us all how to submit to authority, etc. and most times when we fail to yield simply because we had a “better way of doing something”, we also fail to receive the fullness of His blessing (part of His blessing is the transformation that occurs through obedience). “Obedience is better than sacrifice”, is a scripture that applies here but not to our democracy.
Political party politics is a different matter however. Those who say they wish we could all just get along simply have no understanding of how democracy has worked in this country since George Washington’s cabinet splintered off and formed political parties. Our representative republic functions best with a system where both sides (and even multiple sides) are aggressively trying to achieve their goals. Almost like a prosecutor and a defense lawyer. Both have a role to play to make the system work. The price of them “getting along” too much would be justice. Political parties and campaigns identify the positives and negatives about people who are running for elective office. That is not the problem with this country. There may have never been a campaign any more negative than when John Adams ran against Thomas Jefferson at the turn of the 19th century. And this country thrived in a system where politics was ultra competitive.
Partisan party politics involves deciding who WE THE PEOPLE will hire to do a public service job. It is not about synergism, but it is about who is going to lead from the position being voted on. It is not about unity and trying to accomplish the same goals, but it is usually about two different visions of what government should and should not do. We should look at the candidates and their plans for the future and we should be thankful we live in a country that has a second amendment that protects the freedom of speech in political contest. People should not be turned off by tough campaigning. Instead they should tune in. We are choosing our leaders and serious open conversations help to make the choices clearer.