Ron Isaac’s Commentary: Generals and Teachers In the Trenches

Sep 14, 2021 by

Do today’s military generals lack the boldness, competence and nobility of purpose of their World War II predecessors? 

Have they achieved their rank more because of political acumen than mastery on the battlefield?  Is promotion to the highest ranks predicated more on shrewd networking than a reward for soldiering prowess? 

What is really their “call of duty”:  could it be the marketing of their title and selling of their soul to defense contractors as lobbyists, consultants and influence peddlers upon retiring their uniforms? Aren’t the skills of some lower-ranked soldiers not more impressive for their skills of strategy and self-sacrifice?  

Top brass is not necessarily top-shelf. They may be out of touch and hands off the actual experience of their trade. These are armchair generals who lend themselves to appointments in the “military-industrial complex”.

There is also an equivalent education-industrial complex that operates along (and behind ) the same lines. Instead of Raytheon and Lockheed, they are compensated and owned by equivalents among vendors, professional developers, school boards and, of course, elected leaders who need to concoct policy statements.

If they have integrity and expertise retained from their days of teaching in the classroom, that’s well and good, but not essential to perform their jobs to expectation. If it reposes, stagnates and festers untapped, it won’t mitigate against their prosperity or dampen their ambition and impede their promotion.

The best ideas are more likely to emanate from classroom instructors than commissioners, chancellors, superintendents and other administrators. But when “think tanks” have a vacancy for a pundit in education, there is almost no chance that they will hire an active teacher over one that has jumped ship to a board room.  The talent pool of education executives may be two inches deep and that of classroom teachers a thousand fathoms, but it won’t matter.

A teacher who chooses to stay in the trenches outranks, in terms of purity of motivation and usually talent, any four-star, covetous, supervisory toady and profiteer.

Ron Isaac

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