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Can You Hear The Question President Obama is Asking You?

According to the Wall Street Journalʼs Economy section of Sundayʼs edition, there is a growing sense among many economists that Washingtonʼs ability to goose the economic recovery is limited, especially given the deep pain U.S. businesses and households have suffered during the recession. Thursday July 29th at the Washington DC Convention Center, President Obama spoke to a listening crowd of Urban League members and supporters as he asked the crowd the question. Are we offering our children the very best education possible?

When I think about our emergence into the discussion of the White Houseʼs Open Government Directive over the past 12 months, a web 2.0 initiative now best defined by transparency, collaboration, and participation, President Obamaʼs question truly resonated with me. Are we (business owners, leaders, parents, civic and faith based organization leaders ), offering our children the very best education possible? With the emergence of a new age of transparency, social media engagement tools, interactive web technologies, and conferences on innovative methods to improve the way government services the public, the Presidentʼs question deserves some one, some collective body, some entity, or some think tank group of individuals to step forward and answer by way of demonstration that we indeed are, or emphatically are not offering our children the very best education possible. And until we reach a consensus, it is our opinion at Open Government TV (OGTV) that this question should remain on the floor while other related questions should also be considered. In other words, if we are ever going to change our economic reality we must stay on topic, on message and emerge with answers to this very profound question posed by our nationʼs leader Barak Obama. For example, related questions would include under the Open Government context: can Open Government help reduce the current national unemployment rate of 9.5% or the unemployment rate of 11.8% among those veterans who served in the military since September 2001, or help reduce the 15.8% unemployed among African American males, or nearly 45% of African American male youth between the ages

of 16-35.

This Administration under much debate within Congress and the Senate and with intense stakeholder input, has passed the historic heath care reform bill, and now the hotly contested financial reform bill. So the question to all of us in the Open Government community who invest our time, and devote our attention to making government more open must, I believe look amongst ourselves and ask these hard questions. Can we build collaborations to restore leadership in our educational system? Or perhaps the question that we should find an answer to first is, can Open Government help more people participate meaningfully in work force development, wealth creation endeavors, community empowerment program, and small business advancement? As Americans, and the constitution that we allege to preserve, protect, and promote in the name of freedom, the most natural answer we are likely to receive from our President to each of these pressing questions is, Yes We Can. Even to the most optimistic zealot like myself, one can not help being confronted with the thought however, that an under- educated populace will indeed lose its place in the line of excellence, and an uneducated populace will lose its place in line period. Our country will become more dependent on international resources without education, less productive, and the divide within our own nation may continue to erode our ability to climb out of the recession that has severely depleted personal savings accounts, compromised individualʼs and families earning power, and caused our nationʼs banking system to experience a historic number of bank closures.Can You Hear The Question The President Obama is Asking You?

So as I listened intently to President Obamaʼs speech to the Urban League in order to be able to write this article, I began to hear the clear challenge he posed in the form of a question to the listening audience and to the country. Are we offering our children the very best education possible? in other words, Secretary of any federal agency, Director of any federal, state or local agency, board member of any corporation, contracting officer, program manager, volunteer, company president, not for profit executive director, corporate executive vice president, secretary, teacher, professor, Dean, President of every college and University, doctor, lawyer, farmer, are you doing what it takes to offer our children the very best education possible? It seems to me that before trying to answer this question and be totally honest, one would require a moment of self reflection as we all have had our chances over the past years to either be the best, or realize where we have room for improvement when it comes to offering our children the very best education opportunities.

It then dawned on me that the real question being asked by the President was;

Are we willing to participate in improving our nationʼs economic position by transforming our attitudes, and pre established ways of doing business to improve the chances of improving our educational system.

The tenor of his speech reminded me of a quote found in the Bible where it says to those who have been given much, for much is given, much is required. Or his speech in ways was as if John Fitzgerald Kennedy came back to life and was telling the country to “ask not what the country can do for you, but ask what YOU can do for your country”. Now that government is more Open and more transparent than it has ever been, whatʼs next? Do we continue to follow the leadership precepts of the Open Government Directive laid out by the President and now concentrate on the second value (collaboration)? In other words, the question here is about inclusion to excellence. (Who gets included). For example, hereʼs a test; just because I have never done business with you before, should that matter whether we do business or not? Or just because you donʼt live in my neighborhood, or attend my country club, from my state or even country, can I bring a good idea, and can we consider implementing the good idea? Can I come to the table with zeal and aspirations, and present a new idea, and be accepted by an unfamiliar group? And not only can the idea be accepted, but can I find an encourager, or a mentor in the process to make sure that because of the level of my energy supporting my aspiration, can we come together to formulate a best path for success collaboratively.

I think the answer becomes fundamentally simple and straight forward and with the right will could become a unified and resounding Yes We Can. The President during his speech to the Urban League reminded the audience that education is a pre-requisite to our economic status, and that we as a country we have declined from the status of number 1 to an unrespectable number 12 in economic supremacy, and that our 8th graders trail other nations in science and math behind 10 other nations. In fact, what made it clear to me the question President Obama was really asking was when he said that our declining standing in the globe is “morally inexcusable, reprehensible, and all of us have to roll up our sleeves and change this”. After reading this article, it is our hope at OGTV that every American agrees with the President when he says that he doesnʼt want a young person to get a diploma if they cant read the diploma. And in order for our nationʼs economy to begin to paint a new picture that erases bleak, we at OGTV want to encourage collaborations, and teaming at all levels because the state of our economy requires a TEAM APPROACH, and a dissemination of information sharing that engages, educates, and empowers. To blog or send your comments, visit us at www.opengovtv.com,

Can You Hear The Question President Obama is Asking You?

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