Thinking in Shades of Gray

Alabama’s immigration debate is opportunity to practice thinking in shades of gray to find solutions to complex problems.

Article first published as Thinking in Shades of Gray on Technorati.

The tension of a paradox can be paralyzing. Few problems today can be answered as right or wrong.   Success will surely go to those who can find the best answer among many right answers.  The current debate over immigration law in Alabama is an opportunity for our kids to practice thinking in the shades of gray.

Are we obligated to provide education to all children—regardless of citizenship?

Education leads to freedom and peace

Alabama’s law, among other things, requires school officials verify the citizenship of students.  Heavily targeting the Hispanic community, the opposition claims the result has been increased bullying and a drop in Hispanic student attendance.

Freedom is the ability to act with choice and reason.   Controlling your choices requires an awareness of options and a rational, educated mind with which to evaluate them.   Helplessness triggers fear; fear hijacks rational thinking.  Education and support replace fear with confidence and peace.

Freedom isn’t free

Just ask a veteran or the parent of a vet how much was paid in the name of freedom.  If you don’t know anyone to ask then look at your tax bill—freedom is expensive.   Money is a big factor in the availability of quality education—money that pays teachers and supports students.

Size Matters

Twenty years of causality debates about class sizes and academic achievement have settled nothing.  Some argue teachers can’t be effective with too many students while others say a great teacher with a solid plan can overcome the obstacle.   It’s true, a great teacher can do great things; however we can’t be sure that our kids will land an excellent teacher K – 12.  Watch Davis Guggenheim’s, Waiting for Superman, and see what I mean.

The Center for Public Education says academic achievement requires:

  • Smaller classes (K-3), 18:1 teacher/student ratio max;
  • Minority and low-income students need small class sizes in primary grades;
  • Teacher experience/preparation is critical;
  • Professional development for teachers is essential.

Crowded Classrooms

According to the Institute for Education Science, the average public elementary school operates with a 20:1 ratio—24:1 in secondary schools.  Compare this to 13:1 for private schools.  Crowded classrooms are issues of money.

To educate a child in public school for one year costs about $10,500 and it comes from property taxes.  Therefore the financial burden for education falls to those who pay property taxes.  Though the IRS and the Immigration Policy Council assume property taxes are collected from unauthorized immigrants through rental payments, it seems a fairly big assumption.  If renting to the undocumented is construed as harboring, it could discourage landlords from disclosing that rental income.

The Paradox of Gray

The questions about education, obligation, and freedom are certainly complex.  On one hand, education is essential to peace and on the other hand quality education depends upon responsible financial planning.  Both sides of the debate have valid arguments, yet neither has “the” right answer.  As the world grows more intricate, the successful leader will be one who is free to think in the shades of gray because that’s where solutions to complex problems are found.  Thinking and conflict resolution are skills strengthened by pondering difficult issues like this.  You are the catalyst that influences a debate at home that provides your children the opportunity to practice thinking.

Related Articles:  Thoughtfulness in Thinking, Genuine Curiosity, Tip First,

Related Tip of the Week:  Dissent,

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Author: Lorraine Esposito

Lorraine Esposito 914-410-7502 Lorraine Esposito is a certified professional life coach, mentor coach, owner of The Center for Coaching Mastery at Westchester Community College in New York, and nationally recognized author of The Peacemaker Parent, Solving Problems for Today, Teaching Independence for a Lifetime, Lorraine is the featured life coach for a popular New York radio station, WFAS 103.9 FM and is in collaboration with and featured blogger for the National Football League and USA Football adding a ‘coach approach’ to coaching youth sports. Lorraine’s client base includes CEO’s in the entertainment industry, White House and Capitol Hill public affairs staff, entrepreneurs, global TED speakers, award winning writers, new coaches just starting out, successful business women between 40 and 55 looking for more out of life, and parents needing a little help making good on their parenting promises. Lorraine’s career matches the diversity in her coaching practices. Starting out in the rural mid-west, Lorraine has owned four small businesses; the first, an automobile repair center, started at age 16. Her corporate experience is mainly in negotiating multimillion dollar contracts as the buyer of domestic in-flight food and beverages for Trans World Airlines and then as a procurement manager for the New York City Transit Authority. Lorraine’s strength has always been creatively finding solutions to even the most complicated goal. In addition, Lorraine’s 30 years as a professional fitness coach continues to add depth to all her endeavors. She has been featured in various print, broadcast, and on-line media and is a public speaker regarding personal leadership to community and school-based audiences. Lorraine lives in New York with her husband and two teenage sons.

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