Olympians inspire and instruct
“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.” —Jesse Owens
Dave Ramsey wrote recently, “Whether or not you're a sports fan, there's something about the Olympics that brings out passion in all of us. For two weeks, we become super fans of these individuals who have spent thousands of hours becoming the best in the world at what they do.”
He pointed out, “Most of us will never perform in the Olympics, but we all have something to learn from them.” The first lesson is what it takes to be the best, as stated above by Olympian Jesse Owens.
I know we all took great pride in watching these young athletes, representing the United States and our future, compete with the world. And America came out on top.
As they interviewed the “Fierce Five” after these young women had won a team gold in gymnastics, several shared how their dream of being an Olympian had been born “in 2004 when I watched Carly Patterson.” That means they were just young children—and eight years later they were Olympic gold medalists. Dreams can come true fast.
For some, the hurdles may be very difficult. Ramsey points out that “in 1960, Wilma Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field during one Olympic Games. As a child, she was born premature and suffered from polio, which caused infantile paralysis. She wore a brace on her left leg until she was 9. At the Rome Olympics in 1960, she was called 'the fastest woman on earth.'?”
And of course, at the London games we witnessed the greatest Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, running his medal total to 22—18 of those gold. In Beijing he won eight gold in eight events. You would think that is impossible to do, but then I heard him say that he swam every day for five years straight in preparing to win. He said he set goals and was willing to do what other people wouldn't do. And that's why he has a record 22 Olympic medals.
What are your dreams or goals? And are you truly committed and willing to sacrifice to achieve each goal? Do you have a Michael Phelps kind of dedication?
Many want to “try” to be successful; others “train” for it. Michael Phelps and these great Olympians trained long before they arrived at the Olympics and the starting line. And for those who didn't win—as you often heard—they reset their goals and begin another four years of training for the next opportunity. Now that is inspiring and a lesson for us all.
It takes talent to win
Speaking of talent, training, dedication and winning, Tim Barfield is a great example—and a great fellow. You don't find many like him who will leave the private sector—and top salary—to do public service once, much less twice. Louisiana and Gov. Bobby Jindal are fortunate. Jindal convinced the former Shaw Group president in 2008 to join him and take on the job of transforming the Labor Department into the Workforce Commission. After completing that, he served as executive counsel for a short time, before returning to the private sector.
Jindal will take on a major issue next session—tax reform—and he knows getting the right quarterback to lead the Department of Revenue is essential. Barfield is the man, and he will be paid $250,000 a year, far below his private sector compensation, but twice what the former secretary was making. So, is Rep. John Bel Edwards (head of the Democratic Caucus) really serious with his questions about the salary of Tim Barfield or just once again giving The Advocate writers fodder to bash Jindal? His response was so simple minded. Did he complain to friends when the Saints paid Drew Brees maybe 10 times more than quarterback Chase Daniels? I mean, they both are skilled and dedicated, play the same position, and practice hard.
Edwards said it seemed unfair that Barfield, a former president of a Fortune 500 company and attorney, would get more than the former department secretary, who was “a long-term public servant.” That is the old government/union/civil service philosophy: Pay me based on my seniority, not my ability or production. That's part of the state's financial problem right there.
Edwards knows that in the legal profession the oldest lawyer in the firm may not always have the highest hourly rate. Why doesn't every lawyer charge the same?
If Edwards had a brain tumor, would he question the charges for the neurosurgeon being higher than those of his family physician? C'mon, John, let's be honest. You knew the answer to your question before you asked it.
I wonder if Edwards was one of those critics who screamed when then-LSU Chancellor Mark Emmert went out and hired football coach Nick Saban at twice the salary of ex-coach Gerry DiNardo. Those critics never said much after the first SEC championship, followed by the national championship. (Were you one of those critics too?) It seems like winning makes it all worth it. Barfield is a winner.
Fruits of reform
If you are wondering if reform can happen and really makes a difference, look at a few of the changes taking place now in our state due to recent legislation. These are all in addition to the statewide voucher program, which attracted more than 10,000 applications.
1) Louisiana received a record 26 applications for new charter schools this year, a five fold increase over the previous year. Now, potential charter operators can apply directly to BESE if their school district received a letter grade of D or F. The impact was immediate. The state received a total of 49 charter applications.
State Superintendent John White says during the 2011-2012 school year more than 44,000 students attended 98 charter schools in Louisiana. From 2010 to 2011, charter schools outpaced all schools in Louisiana for gains in performance scores, gaining an average of 6 points compared to the 2-point gain of all schools.
Of the 26 new applications received, 85% were from D or F school districts and 81% were from areas of high priority in the state.
2) Performance-based evaluations begin. Starting this year, the state will begin evaluating teachers using a new model, called Compass, that includes value-added evaluation. (The new tenure system passed in 2012 will be linked to this evaluation system.) Of the final score, 50% is quantitative, based on student achievement. Evaluators will work alongside teachers throughout the year, providing ongoing feedback to support their improvement.
3) “Course Choice” and workforce development get a boost. This legislation is a first and is transformational, particularly as it relates to workforce development. Businesses can now apply to be an official course provider for K-12 education, to design and deliver training and receive MFP dollars for their efforts.
“Students today are too often limited by what is offered within the walls of their particular school,” White said. “By opening education to a variety of entities proven to prepare students, Course Choice expands options for students and families. Businesses will offer internships and apprenticeships that prepare our state's students for 21st-century jobs. Universities will teach students before they graduate from high school. And excellent Louisiana teachers will find new opportunities to teach students beyond their current classrooms.”
Louisiana is the first state in the nation to implement such a system.
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