Reclaiming Independence: Discovering the Lost Duties of Leadership

Chapter 5 – Education

Aside from avoiding nuclear war with Russia and addressing our mental health needs, rebuilding education from the ground up is our most critical problem to solve. Our future depends on how well we prepare the generations of tomorrow for the challenges we will rely on them to overcome. It is no secret that education is completely broken in America, from pre-school to the collegial level, rotten to the core. Children learn far more about what categorical socio-demographic boxes they can put themselves into than they ever do about the natural way things work in the world around them. They’re exposed to violence, whether its bullying and social out casting or they’re classmates with a child who’s fallen victim to our broken mental healthcare system and brought a gun to school. They’re provided with little incentive to achieve with the advent of social promotion and the lowering of standards. And in place of knowledge, they’re fed critical race and gender theories that indoctrinate them into an ideology of victimhood and oppression. They learn details from history taken far out of context and hypocritically constructed, and they are not being prepared for the future.


My four-year-old son, Jacob, is currently in preschool in Florida, and will be in kindergarten this coming fall, as my ten-year-old did before him; however, come first grade, Jacob is going to be homeschooled just like his brother Alex. Alex is now in the fifth grade in the same amount of time it would have taken him to get to the fourth grade in a public or private school. In Florida, there is a state-sponsored homeschool program called Florida Virtual School, or FLVS, that offers Alex the ability to go to school online at his own pace with a structured curriculum to follow.

On his educational journey, Alex has been helped along by FLVS teachers who frequently communicate with him over the phone and online in addition to a pretty smart dad with a willingness to teach his son. The reason my boys attend kindergarten is because I know how important receiving socialization from their peers becomes at that age, but by the first grade what they lose in education is already outweighed by what the social interactions provide. If I’m going to put my children in the best situation possible, leaving them in school is not that; although I wish it were, I believe it should be, and I’m willing to bet it could be again.

When considering how to return quality to our education system, I found it helpful to retrace the development of it from the beginning. I studied Horace Mann, Henry Bernard, and Catherine Beecher, learning of their motivations to create formalized education systems. I researched the growing industrialization of our country in the mid 1800’s and the requirement to establish never-before-needed forms of structure and discipline that complement the efforts required for production in the new, industrious world. I also learned that the concept of formal schooling stemmed from stagnation along the end of the First Industrial Revolution and was likely instrumental to the success of the Second Industrial Revolution, as well.

Education was critical in providing the skills, training and social structure to young Americans who faced a future of manufacturing rather than the agricultural lives the generations before them experienced. Schedules and classroom environments were designed to replicate the demeanors of factories, equipped with bells to simultaneously tell the workforce when their shift was over. Grade levels were like promotions, with graduation as the completion of a cycle students will to replicate to achieve any real success in life. And in the process of getting young, curious minds accustomed to the structure their industrious lives required, the schools filled their minds with knowledge exclusively in the form of unabashed truth. It was exactly what we needed to guide ourselves into the 20th century, and, in my opinion, one of our greatest achievements as a nation.

Learning about the formation of public schools led me to wonder where the leaders are who recognize that the education system designed in the mid 1800’s to support the needs of the past isn’t the education system we need today to support the needs of the future. Class bells and centralization worked during the onset of learning machines or adopting assembly lines, but the world is far different today than it was back then. If the goal of our education system is to prepare our children for tomorrow, then redesigning that system to fit the current needs of society is what we should do.

I love homeschooling my son and look forward to starting with my youngest. I understand how that might not be the case for most people, but for me there is nothing more satisfying than fishing or camping with Alex, doing math on the side of a river or under flashlights in a tent instead of in a prison-like system at such a slow pace it’s impossible for him to stay engaged.  It’s wonderful showing up to a children’s museum, zoo, or even theme park on a weekday morning during the school year, having the place pretty much to ourselves, learning more in the process than school is able to teach.

For me, homeschooling is a gift that keeps giving. Alex is allowed to learn at his own pace and required to test out of each grade in a program operated by the state like anyone else; yet he has the freedom and flexibility to do it where and when he wants. He’s already completed four grades in the time it takes to normally complete three, and he’s on pace to graduate from high school by the time he is fourteen or fifteen years old. On top of that, my boys are in an incredibly fortunate position of already having their college paid for, too. This means they are destined to be in a situation at eighteen or nineteen with a degree, completely free of debt, able to choose anything in life to do that they see fit.

And that’s the goal isn’t it, to put our kids into situations where they can have the maximum possibilities from which to choose? I stress to Alex never make any decision in life for money, only out of his own knowledge of right from wrong and his own desire to follow the preponderance of that. I assure him that within those parameters he will find an endless list of options to choose how to spend his life in a way he will appreciate. I’m grateful he’s been afforded the opportunity to choose his own destiny so freely; but I’m also ashamed our rich society doesn’t naturally provide this to all our children more effortlessly. As much as I love teaching my son, and as proud as I am for the circumstances I’ve been able to create for him, I’d give it all up without question if I knew Alex was in the proper learning environment. No matter how much homeschooling has bonded us, a homeschool environment will never be as effective at developing young minds as a quality, collaborative learning environment. Surrounded by peers in a safe place with a caring and qualified teacher is far more beneficial to Alex than hanging out with his dad literally all the time.

I believe that in a world where the citizens of our nation rediscovered themselves and their duties to become their own leaders, schools would once again become the place they are needed to be for our society to thrive. I’m not an expert and finding the right programs to shift our education systems from the dumpster fires they have become into something more enlightening will require superior initiatives to what I’m capable of discovering. I’m just a rational guy, with real-life experience both as a student and as a parent. I can do the math and see there is plenty of money available to restructure our education systems into something more appropriately designed to prepare our kids for the future, if we would only buckle down and commit ourselves to them.

I have never undervalued a quality education and I believe our ability to provide one to each of our children has every bit to do with the success of our nation than literally anything else. I grew up in the worst circumstances a child could imagine, forcing me at sixteen to quit school and support myself financially. It was a decision so difficult for me to make that I had nightmares about it, filling me with the terror coming to my life in lieu of a proper education. There’s never been a moment, since the day I dropped out of high school, when I didn’t know exactly the value an education would provide me and the horrors not having one would bring. I’m grateful I was able to find my way back into school and graduate, and there’s nothing more important to us all than ensuring we protect the generations of tomorrow from these same horrors.

With the technological resources available to us today, I envision an education system much more decentralized; where teachers are supported in their efforts to band together and form micro-schools that provide more thorough yet more flexible education platforms. With a government reclaimed by ordinary Americans willing to represent those they serve; I can envision legislation designed to utilize the resources of the government in ways which create changes to our education system that support the needs of our future. I can see programs that encourage smaller, more independently run institutions to form, perhaps with tax incentives for parents in their pursuit of providing their children the best education.

Alongside the improvement of our collective mental health and shift in attitude toward a more independent frame of mind, I envision abandoned shopping malls becoming repurposed as secure learning sanctuaries for all ages operating on schedules closer to that of a university than an elementary school. In conjunction with another idea of mine, and perchance Kyrie Irving’s, that involves a change in the way professional sports is owned and operated, I envision a separation from education and athletics in a way that strengthens the structure and vitality of both while doing so.

With the right changes to our education system, I see a world where across America, small pockets of children the same age, twenty or so in a group, spend twelve years together with either the same teacher or a small group of teachers. I see those teachers operating independently of a school yet funded through a voucher program. I see irreplaceable relationships being formed in those twelve years, like a family growing together with the shared purpose of expanding their minds. I see them meeting in a classroom maybe only three or four times per week, for only two or three hours at a time, the way a university class might be, maybe even in conjunction with other pockets of students in the area at the same academic level. I see the students spending the rest of their day on a secure campus that affords them the opportunity to exercise, be in a library, code, or whatever else they feel inclined to explore. I envision vast mall space repurposed into science labs, music centers or flight simulators, even. That’s what I see we could have, clearly not what we have today. Unfortunately, today I see a nation that has every ingredient to make education in America the pinnacle of childhood development in the world simply needing to recognize the series of arrangements it takes to get that system into the right order.

According to a very useful website we should all grow accustomed to named Ballotpedia, the data they’ve compiled from government generated education reports suggests that, across America, there are 13,194 school boards responsible for the 90,323 educational institutions designed to prepare the 47,755,383 young Americans who depend on them for the success of their futures. Further, there are 2,783,705 teachers, at the rate of one teacher for every sixteen students, all at the cost of $644,411,138,202 per year, or $13,494 per student. Now, our federal government’s Department of Education budget is only about $90 billion per year, representing less than 15% of our overall education expenditures. This means the bulk of action that can be taken in regard to the directions we choose for our schools must be done at the local level. That can only begin once our school boards are recaptured by parents and teachers energized by a united effort with their neighbors and communities.

Change comes when we reclaim the duties of leadership that our self-governed society not only demands from us but has reached a point where it will die without. I believe that within each school district are capable parents and teachers with the wisdom and integrity it takes to make decisions for others, willing to consider only those others’ needs in the process. But without a mass awakening that responds to the call to fill the 90,000 school board seats tasked with educating our children, our education system will never recover from the decay that has spread throughout it.

But I also believe the federal government has the power to utilize the 15% it provides to help guide a more decentralized education system, whatever that actually means. My wife is from the Republic of Georgia, and as she went through school, she remained classmates with the same twenty or so people throughout her education, people she remains close with and fond of to this day. They had the same teacher year after year, and built strong relationships with them, even tapping into the professional networks of their teachers with other professors at universities, for example. Her education was exemplary, as was her classmates’, even under the communist Soviet education system; because the system was designed around the idea of building positive futures, not maintaining current struggles like ours is today.

So, knowing that better education is possible, I began to wonder how we could spend the hundreds of billions of dollars we throw down the drain each year on it. If you bundle twenty students up with a teacher at the going rate of $13,494 per student, what you have is an enterprise that makes $269,880 per year, more than enough to support the financial needs of the single person needed to teach them as well as the supplies and overhead expenses to support the curriculum. In fact, if you started getting really innovative, I bet you’d even be able to save as much as 25% of the taxpayer’s funds with programs that create efficiencies which support independent teachers in building successful careers.

I bet at even $10,000 per student spent the right way, teachers could become staples to childhood development again, exclusively focused on their small group of children for large swaths of time. I believe teaching the same students year after year would produce more quality teachers determined to cultivate only their class, possibly working with a team of independent teachers, trading off classes periodically to allow more specialized subject focus. Nonetheless, these teachers would be afforded the opportunity to remain faithful to their students in ways we have always truly expected out of our teachers but never created the environment to cultivate such relationships. Maybe the Department of Education could start using the funds they have to establish locations that support the needs of independent teachers, as well as curtail to the diversity of students in such a flexible environment.

The government could start buying the empty malls laying to waste across America, redesign them to facilitate the most secure and opportunistic learning environments possible, built to make Google headquarters look like a sweatshop, if they can. With the vast space available, locations could be provided to independent teachers who have networked themselves a group of twenty students at the same academic level, committed exclusively to their development. Whether class was scheduled or not, the students would always be welcome to the campus to participate in any of the activities that exist, from culinary facilities to marine biology, science and computer labs, video studios and editing equipment, flight simulators, music rooms, fitness areas, martial arts mats, medical equipment, swimming pools, basketball courts, or even the one dry cleaning shop that was running when they bought the mall and use it as a business management class. The possibilities are literally endless, and so is the potential. But like I said, I’m not an expert on this stuff, I’m just a guy willing to stop and ask, “What if?”

I believe schools such as I am describing are very much a possibility and bring along with them a renewed opportunity for us to rechart the future of education in America. I believe that with the proper investment at the proper locations, a federal plan could be built alongside fifty willing states that recreates our education system to fit the needs of our society today. And I believe that we have the resources and capabilities to restore education as the absolute bedrock of our society, more important to receive in an unbiased fashion than probably anything else we provide our nation’s youth. Once these schools are built, I believe they have the capability to lift up poverty-stricken communities, improve the mental well-being of our children, and incite further innovations for the future.

But, while my fantasy of a utopian education system for our children might be attainable, this only gets our kids out of high school, and does nothing about the uphill battle of obtaining skills provided at the university level while justifying the costs. It is an unquestionable assertion that our education system must change into something that creates more promise for young Americans’ futures, and the turmoil in our system today isn’t solved by changing part of it, rather it is solved by changing all of it. Now, this is America, so regardless of the plethora of accusations that can be hurled at the greed-stricken universities scattered across the nation, two things still do exist; we possess the talent to cultivate young minds, and we have the resources to connect that talent with our young minds in need of cultivation.

I dropped out of college during the final semester of my Senior year, and unlike the turmoil dropping out of high school brought me, it’s a decision I stand by today. Getting my degree became a goal once I discovered the need to get away from the investment firm I worked for. When making considerations to start my own firm, I figured if I’m going it alone it’ll be nice to have a diploma backing my credentials as an advisor. I probably should have just done online courses and gotten it over with, especially considering I was working fifty to sixty hours per week and my son Alex had just been born. But in my typical fashion, I instead chose to immerse myself into the physical college experience out of pure curiosity.

What I learned by doing so, more than ten years removed from high school, wasn’t just that they were teaching what I learned in middle school at the collegial level today, but the method at which it was taught was in no way shaping all these young minds into what they need to become for the future. I was in a 3000-level literature class that was so elementary I went to admissions to be assured I wasn’t accidentally placed in a special needs class or something. Twice per week, I was required to sit in two-hour blocks of instructions on the differences between words such as “their” and “they’re,” or “allude” and “elude,” homophones I was required to master in junior high school.

The more I’ve come to understand about our universities across the country, the more I realize they can’t be changed, they’ve just got to die. But the most effective way the federal government can redirect the dismal path of education isn’t by stopping those responsible for the dismal path, rather by mining the talent required to establish a new, federally funded university that can be offered to any American, hopefully free of charge. Along with a nationwide effort to secure locations that enhance childhood education, there would be room to clear out the old JC Penney’s and Sears, where the top professors that money can buy deliver lectures to an audience, both online and in person, eager to learn without the weight of financial obligations obstructing their potential. And through a network of these former department stores, the professors would be part of a national university that combines the technology of today with their joint effort to become a far-reaching, dependable, and respected higher learning institution.

As far as this is from our reality, the truth of the matter is that it could be a reality if Americans decided to be Americans, reject the leaders of the past, and assert themselves as the leaders they were originally intended to be. It’s past time we unite with others who recognize the shared values we have. And it’s possible that the moment we stand up together in defiance of broken leadership, we will begin to also envision scenarios throughout virtually every aspect of American life where the systems functioning could easily be replaced with simple yet, well thought out, processes which successfully deliver upon the promises they make to the people.

Our colleges and universities are the most broken institutions within our education system, costing the most while educating the least, creating more debt than the economic opportunities they generate. They’re quick to exploit students in search of ever-growing demands for profit, while manipulating them into accepting lives of servitude and control. And they instill fear within these students to toe the lines of society, never rocking the boat. These exploits are most apparent in the multi-billion-dollar-per-year organization known as the NCAA, the representation of modern-day slavery; claiming the trade off in value for a diploma equal to the $18 billion made off their athletic accomplishments each year. Meanwhile, they spearhead ideologies such as gender and critical race theories and take an authoritarian approach to dissenting views.

Fixing primary schools alone will do nothing in the quest to restore quality education in America, rather finding solutions for the problems caused by our higher learning institutions should be part of the plan. Without addressing all levels of education, we can never fulfill our obligation to provide young Americans with the tools and resources essential to confront the challenges of the future. At all levels, we could take advantage of technology by finding new ways of delivering structured curriculum to Americans seeking to further their education in a more decentralized way, alleviating the overhead costs and inefficient rituals that centralized structure creates.

Forgiving student loans that already exist only compounds into more complicated economic obstacles but creating opportunities from a new system built with efficiencies afforded to us in the 21st century could lead to a future where student loans are no longer a thing. Again, I’m not an expert on education, just a guy willing to say what he believes based on the things he sees around him, maybe with a little bit of research and critical thinking along the way. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have all the answers, but I’ll also be quick to point out that the open-mindedness I possess is the open-mindedness we are going to need to find solutions.

Because of my personal views on capitalism, I am a huge proponent of player-owned professional athletics leagues, something I’ll dive into deeper in the next chapter. But in general, the financial security that player-owned athletic leagues have the potential to create would lead to the natural progression of player-owned amateur leagues, as well. And an economic development such as that would surely end the foolish idea of the student-athlete, separating the two functions into entities no longer dependent upon one another. Professional sports generates tens of billions each year, plenty to enrich the lives of the talented players who inspire us all while providing the best top-down structure to all levels and age groups in a controlled way.

In a world where players have control, developing talent and providing the most optimal environments to encourage healthy lifestyles for our nation’s youths would only solidify the vitality of the professional leagues themselves. For instance, between all three collegiate football divisions, there are seventeen teams for every NFL team. This tells me that there are enough college players operating a profitable business that each team in a new, player-owned professional football league would have both the time and resources, as well as would benefit from the greatest, to create their own amateur league or even series of leagues which recruit players and farm talent. Not only would they have the contracts with shoe companies and equipment deals for their pros in addition to stadiums and practice facilities at their disposal, but they’d also have the confidence in knowing the profits colleges have made proves the market interest in amateur leagues.

There are a hundred ways to draw up a player-owned professional league, however the group of pros who took ownership of their own production choose. Again, I’ll dig deeper into the idea of a player-owned league in the next chapter, but I’m just here to ask, “What if?” With the combination of a united effort combating mental health and determination to rebuild our education systems from the ground up; I believe the economic impact of player-owned leagues would become a powerful ally in assisting us all through the transitions it will take to rebuild education. I believe the educational institutions running on the inertia of their prestige will be able to die in peace, and that we will be able to look forward to something greater we’ve built in their stead.

How many teachers does it take in each school district to stand up against the broken leadership within the school boards that govern them? How many do we need to offer themselves as alternative school board members, serving the same parents whose children they’ve already been educating? And once they do, how hard will it be to make the changes to their districts that put the children back on the right track?

 How many parents tired of the ideological brainwashing of their children’s minds does it take to stand up against those who have failed to lead their schools into the right direction? And what does their representative republic require of them to implement change? How many students whose potentials were limited because of the failures in the education system does it take to become leaders of that system and guide it in a way that avoids the pitfalls that hampered their dreams? How many professors would it take to leave the corrupt institutions to which they belong and become part of a new system built to prepare our society for the future before those seeking further education can feel confident in the value proposition provided? Will we just sit idly by while our educational institutions, as well as most of our other societal institutions, crumble into nothingness, or will we uphold the vision of America by recapturing the leadership roles that guide it?

We are Americans, capable of accomplishing anything as a nation together. Let’s move past the ideas we’ve grown used to accepting as the norm, as they have clearly demonstrated an inability to support the needs of our society today. Instead, let’s be willing to work as a united nation to find educational, as well as all social programs, designed for the 21st century. We are literally facing our own destruction by continuing to neglect the duties imposed on us as the citizens of a self-governed nation, and our only remedy is taking on these challenges for ourselves instead of deferring American power into the hands of the elite. It is really that simple.

At the ages of ten and four, I believe we are capable of a future where my boys are afforded an education outside of what I can provide, and that making it available for them is the best thing for all of us. We can’t be afraid to get back to the drawing board, eager to find innovative ways to best educate our kids just as the earliest architects of public education did nearly 150 years ago. Let’s consider the needs of the future and create the most opportunities for each child in America to maximize their potential for success. Like all obstacles we must overcome to restore our standing as a nation, I know we possess everything to achieve these goals; achieving them is only the matter of whether we’re willing to do it together.

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