The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

Are Adults the Worst Thing That Happens to Kids?

On November 10th, 2014, posted in: Uncategorized by

boxing gloves

Are adults the worst thing that happens to kids? An obviously rhetorical question—bombastic and full of the showmanship that lures the audience in to read more than just the first few lines.

Aside from the P.T. Barnum overtone, where do the bad habits, biases, prejudices, and general bad behaviors come from? We’re not born that way, are we? No, we learn them.

I’m not talking about parenting in this example, although it does apply — especially in the early years of shaping an individual. I’m talking about what happens when good people with the best intentions and a meaningful desire to help get derailed and lose sight of the big picture.

The story goes like this. A school board and a superintendent in a growing metropolis, in a southern state not known for the high status of public education, take such opposing positions that the kids are now suffering. How does this happen? Elected officials hire a professional. The honeymoon ends. Discontent, malice, turmoil and bitterness set in, and the mission for which they were respectively elected and hired is out the window. This, quite frankly, makes my head blow off.

I’m reminded that when boards and leaders don’t play well in the sandbox, the mission is derailed, and they end up doing business with themselves instead of the targeted population (in the case of the school board, kids). What’s happening in the volatile discourse of this school district is a case study of the need for collective good rather than individual agendas. Yes, we all have opinions, but when contention is the goal as opposed to mediation, there are nothing but losers — no one wins. We must practice respect. Disagreement for the sake of disagreement breeds animosity and brings progress to its knees — to say nothing of the terrible lesson taught to our children.

Countless times this story has been told. Sadly, it happens in school districts across the country, business boardrooms, non-profits and churches (yes, churches) so often that it makes your head spin. Once, years ago, I signed up for a volunteer advisory committee position at the YMCA. We were formed to plan an upcoming event to celebrate the accomplishments of some young people. While time has darkened the details, I recall being excited prior to the first meeting. I also remember resigning after the first meeting.  OMG! Adults were arguing to such a degree that I called it quits.

Reminds me of the old joke: The definition of a committee is a group of people that get together to build a horse and end up with a jackass. Not always, but way too often.

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