I've been going to a lot of meetings lately about the upcoming Texas Legislative Session. In case there are any non-Texans reading this, I should explain that the Texas legislature only meets once every two years and we're required to have a balanced budget. We're also facing a bit of a money crunch. Not as bad as other states are facing, of course [**cough, California, cough**] - but cuts will be made. There's no way around it.
My natural inclination is to get pretty upset about the fact that Texas schoolchildren and Texas children on Medicaid and CHIP (the constituencies I've supported professionally for almost a decade) are almost certainly facing cutbacks. But...this time around...I decided to bypass my anger and be a bit more philosophical about it.
I think that Americans are great because our ancestors really worked their butts off to create a good life. Whether you're talking about Africans who were brought over to a horrible life but managed to etch out a vibrant and joyful culture or Irish who came from starvation and flourished to the point of almost becoming the "normal" culture, we all come from pretty tough stock. No matter where we came from, we owe a debt of gratitude to our ancestors for their amazing stamina and hard work.
I wouldn't trade that American stamina for anything. And yet - I've realized that a side-effect of that American stamina is that we expect people to "boot-strap" themselves up more than other Western cultures might expect. I would argue (and I know this is indicative of my Texas-centric point of view) that Texans are even more prone to extreme individualism than the average American bear. (So to speak...)
I know what you're thinking - I'm about to get political here. You're wrong.
In order for me to be political about this issue, I'd have to take a position - and I'm truly and honestly pondering these ideas.
Do I want our schools to have more support? Of course I do. But this whole mental exercise forced me to recognize that Texas takes this hands-off attitude because of where we came from. I'm not saying it's right but I'm also not saying it's wrong. Heck, my dad and brother are entrepreneurs - amazing ones. I feel the pull of entrepreneurship myself. I value that American/Texan attitude of "just leave me be and I'll figure it out myself."
So, really...I'm just asking the question...how do we continue to value that spirit while finding the right level of boost for our kids?