A Forceful Voice

It was thought to be an announcement about a major future development for the state. The Governor had invited Edwin Roche to give an address to the Legislature and his Cabinet. Roche was a state native and one of the most influential business leaders in America. The rumor was that Roche was going to announce the move of his corporate offices to the state. After a laudatory introduction and standing ovation, Roche began his address. 

“Thanks so much for that warm welcome. I’ve come to speak to you today about something very dear to me: learning. When I think of the business I ‘ve created, I like to think of it as a learning community.”           

“Everything I’ve accomplished in my life, I attribute to the public school system in this great state. That’s why I’ve invited all of my teachers to join with me today. Please stand so that you can be recognized.” 

The applause for the teachers was slow in coming and definitely muted. Roche returned to his remarks. “I ask every one of my employees to have a learning plan for the year. We subsidize their additional education if that’s what they want. We’ll pay for certificates. I’ve personally given every employee a $25/month voucher for the purchase of reading materials for them or anyone in their family.” 

“We support public schools. I benefitted immensely from those I went to school with. I just don’t think you get that from a more restricted school environment.” 

“On a personal level, I remain a learner. I benefit greatly from the viewpoints of others, even those I disagree with. I do my own study and don’t have my staff spoon feed me information. And here’s what I’ve learned about my home state when it comes to being a learning community.

  • You have cut funding for all of education, from pre-school to higher education.
  • You are robbing the state’s educational system of much needed support by transferring funds to questionable private schools.
  • You demean the educators of our youth through your politically motivated educational oversight.
  • You take actions to boost the pay for correctional officers, but not teachers.
  • You express no alarm that teaching positions are going unfilled.”

“To me, you have violated our state’s constitution which guarantees every child an education. That’s why I will not be moving our corporate headquarters here. I say that with great remorse, because I really wanted to give back to the state that was so formative for me. But the state has changed and not for the better.” 

“Lower taxes and relocation incentives are bribes and corporate welfare. What I’m looking for is an environment where my employees and their families can flourish. Sadly, I no longer find it here.” 

Just imagine how our country would change if more business leaders would give such an address. The failure of elected leadership requires that those who have reached success built on the foundations they were provided started to spur our society to be our better selves. We need leaders of hope, not fear. We need leaders with visions for the future, not grievances of the past. We need those with moral backbones to guide us. 

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“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” – Albert Einstein

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