From My Side of the Desk:
Some Class for Congress
Who Am I? is this blog’s game of the week. Here are a few clues that describe our mystery subject: Name-calling; bullying; sniping; too much talk but too little action; the blame game and childlike belligerence. No, it’s not squabbling siblings. Nor is it your place of work, unless your site is under consideration for the sequel to Horrible Bosses. And I sure hope it’s not a personal relationship.
Out of guesses? It’s the United States Congress- the very same bicameral legislative body that has held us, their constituents, hostage for longer than many celebrity marriages. Instituting term limits might ease some of the partisanship, the constant campaigning and the pandering to special interests, but this action won’t soothe the national migraine it has caused. If we really want legislative progress, then we need to establish a Congressional Class Council Course (CCCC) created and controlled by seven heartless, exacting and pitiless public school teachers.
Every one of us has endured a year (or in my case, two-my junior and senior years of high school) with That Teacher: the creature that could leap desks to humble the most arrogant athlete or haughty campus queen; who could make the biker brutes weep, and who could muzzle even the biggest bully or gag the class clown. This Pitiless Professor could guarantee that, Johnny and Jane would most assuredly read, write and think proficiently after a year in a No Excuses Allowed classroom. Just imagine how quickly seven Daunting Deans could quell Congressional quarreling. Mind-boggling, isn’t it?
In the two months between the election and their taking the oath of office, each new House of Representatives and the Senate electee will be required to pass a course designed by the CCCC. Classes will include:
Conflict Mediation and Resolutions. This course forms the foundation of the Congressional Class Council Course program. Every teacher knows that students will experience success if they have mastered the Art of Give and Take, Polite Discourse over in-your-face, passing the blame and name-calling confrontations, and Effective Leadership Traits. The Legislators-in-Training will understand and be able to practice the elements of respect, responsibility, and reliability. They will never substitute an excuse for an action or blame a peer for their inability to perform the duties of their office. Personal Integrity and the needs of their constituents, not the dictates of their party (even though that’s where the power and money lie) will be their exemplar.
History: Legislative Mistakes Seminar. This course will dissect and analyze legislation that was passed due to partisanship, pandering to special interests and inefficient actions. Any law that weakened the economy, failed to promote job creation, and/or threatened citizens’ pursuit of life, liberty and happiness will be revised so historical malfeasance will not continue to doom the future of the country. The amended versions will be scheduled for immediate action in both houses when Congress reconvenes the following January.
- A. Remedial Economics and Finance. Chapters to be covered are: Economic Theories and Systems Made Simple; Fiscal Policy- Victories and Defeats, and Banking, Money and Me.
- B. Let’s Make a Budget. Topics to include : How Not to Spend Money I Don’t Have (where the newly elected senators and representatives review past legislation that added to the National Debt by following a policy of “Billions Out-Millions In”) and Bet on Black, a remediation of basic accounting practices to insure that the country’s Asset column becomes (and remains) fatter than the Debit column.
Political Science: Constituents First/Campaigning Last. In this seminar, each legislator will learn how to create a monthly time table where legislation that affects their constituents will take up 80% or more of their time and efforts; their reelection (example: chasing the money, campaign stumping) will be allowed no more than 20%.
- The Future is Now. Legislators will study how to focus on the constituents’ and country’s future needs in relation to bills under consideration at the present time, and to prioritize their actions to insure a prosperous future.
- Starving the Appropriations Monster. Ways to pare down the extraneous special interest fat in bills i.e. earmarks and riders will be learned and students will prepare exemplify this No-Fat diet.
- Downton Abbey Finishing School. This seminar, an adjunct to the Conflict Mediation and Resolutions class, teaches the basic manners and etiquette necessary for effective business and social interactions. It focuses on how to talk without ruffling feathers, how to suggest tabling a topic better discussed privately, and how to keep respect public and disparagement private to avoid escalating any conflict.
The teachers who comprise the first CCCC will be nominated by educators and students (former and present) in any school district in the country. Their professional pedagogies, philosophies, methods of instruction and behavioral policies, along with ten testimonials to their callous classroom techniques will be posted on every news social web site the first two weeks of August prior to the election as well as in every hardcopy newspaper and magazine and snailmail box. The top 100 educators’ names will be reposted for another vote, and this will result in the seven members of the CCCC. Along with their selection to this council, these teachers are automatically tenured for life. As well as performing their other CCCC duties, they will be responsible for keeping an updated list of instructors who are ready and willing to serve in their places if the need arises.
Within a week of their election, every future senator and representative will receive a packet containing: A detailed explanation of each week-long course, a calendar designating all evaluation dates, and the minimum scores required for Proficient and Advanced Proficient Standards of Legislator Education (SOLE) ratings. The times and room numbers will also be listed for representatives (the Rayburn Building) and senators (the Hart building).
At the start of each seminar, the legislators will take a SOLE pretest. This score will show each person’s level of comprehension, understanding and ability to competently carry out the tenets of that course. With this knowledge, the CCCC’s Insensitive Instructors will be able to design lessons that meet the individual needs of each electee so he/she is capable of earning at least a Proficient designation on the End-of-Course evaluation.
Those that do not earn a Proficient tag in each course, will not be administered the Oath of Office and will remain in Legislative Limbo until they receive a Proficient rating. Because this could upset the party balance in Congress, the CCCC hopes it will motivate the future leaders to take each seminar seriously so that No Congressman will be Left Behind.
Sitting senators and representatives will not be left behind, either. Right before Congress recesses in December, each member will be required to take the SOLE exam so they can show their Adequate Legislative Proficiency (ALP). Any who do not earn a Proficient rating will be required to take the seminar for that subject area along with their newly-elected associates. Just as the electees, they will not be allowed to perform their official duties until they earn a Proficient classification.
When Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, they established a national standard for students, educators and school systems. Following a recommendation by President George W. Bush, Representatives John Boehner (R-OH), George Miller (D-CA), and Senators Edward(D-MA) and Judd Gregg(R-NH) worked together to hammer out a bipartisan bill that redefined the expected outcome for every American school district. Each district's educators then put their heads together to establish what subject material to teach and, in many cases, how to teach it.
This very institution where those legislators placed their confidence and faith to touch every school-age child, the American educational system, should be utilized to pay forward this favor. This country’s constituents have shown their dismay at Congress’s (in)actions with a 14% approval rating to start 2013. Various Gallup polls and sites like abcnews. go.com/Politics report that this is a lower rating than people gave the Nixon Administration during Watergate, BP Oil after the Gulf spill, banks and financial institutions and socialism.
By successfully completing the Congressional Class Council Course program, legislators will acquire some necessary classes, so they can exhibit some class with their actions and will earn back some of the confidence and faith that their constituents placed in them on Election Day.
After all, everyone knows that class rules.
Until next week,