Without Leadership and character no amount of money can help a school succeed. We are on the very threshold, and many school districts are facing an important vote. The results of that vote will impact the future for students, parents, the community, and in the long run, our nation. School district budgets and school board candidates are on the ballot. Many school districts will be voting within the next several days and the issues are too important to be overlooked. The school budget, as presented by the school board, is a statement of the educational priority plan for the District. And the school board members are the trustees of the school system. Their responsibilities include, in addition to other areas, assuring excellence in the governance of quality educational programs, analyzing and prioritizing essential needs, establishing policies, allocating resources, and monitoring educational progress. Excellence in our schools, undergirded by a sound fiscal plan, guided by principled leadership and character... that is the style and substance when voting on school budgets.

There is an old expression which says that children need to learn the 3Rs: READIN', 'RITIN', 'RITHMATIC'. Today, however, national statistics show that two-thirds of ninth graders will leave high school without the English and math skills to handle college or land a job that can support a family. This statistic has devastating consequences for our young people and for our country. The good news is there are those educators and others who have a design to fix our broken or weakening schools. In addition to the traditional 3Rs which are a must, we need to instill within our learners, three additional 3Rs : an attitude for a RIGOROUS work ethic and study effort, self RESPONSIBILTY and personal accountability, and a RESOLVE to be resilient and steady at the work job of learning, all within schools that maintain a safe and wholesome environment. These 6 Rs aren't like the individual answers on a multiple choice test and you pick one; all six are required. They are the building blocks for individual success and a design for excellence and serve as a road map for hope. If ever there was a time, this is THAT time for strategic renewal and for principled leadership in our schools and on our school boards.

The school budget document is a road map for the distinct. And the school board's effective implementation of that budget is essential. There will be new members joining hold over board members and, within a few weeks, the new board of education for each school district will become a reality. The board is a strategic body of decision makers. They set the tone for the school system and should serve as a model of excellence. The corporate body of trustees of a school district has major public responsibilities doing the business of the people as pubic trustees. And a trustee occupies a position of trust in the performance of their pubic duties. Clearly, the performance of members of public boards calls for the highest level of principled leadership, honesty and courage. That, too, is what your vote is about on Tuesday.

The productivity and ingenuity of Americans everywhere is the envy of the world. Our schools should reflect this ingenuity and productivity. American innovation and productivity is leading the way in this information age. And new technology speeds an exchange of ideas that often bear the mark of American inspiration. Few nations in history have been granted such a singular opportunity to help shape the future of so many people around the world. And principled leadership is desperately needed in all aspects of American life. And it begins right where we are... in our schools, in small towns and communities, and in our cities and megalopolis urban areas. It is imperative that it presides in local municipal government settings, county agencies, state government operations, and on local boards of education.

As we see it, principled leadership is influence guided by core beliefs and virtues that mobilize people to accomplish a mission and a vision. A principled leader does NOT shirk from responsibility. Building excellence in our schools is essential. Maintaining a wholesome and safe environment is a prerequisite. In the words of Winston Churchill: "Someone has to take responsibility, I will." This leadership requires solid character, sound competence and genuine commitment that is coherent with one's core beliefs and virtues. It is this alignment which gives rise to one's trustworthiness. And core beliefs define what is fundamentally true, important and right. And virtues are the standards against which ethical behavior is measured. In short, principled leaders concentrate on doing the right thing. It requires vision, determination, and resilience.

Sustained excellence in principled leadership, at all levels, from the trusteeship on a local school board to the greatest office in the land requires adherence to ethical values and determined perseverance. These core values are the touchstones for leading and the ethical lodestars for action. It is by firmly holding to one's principles, and acting on one's convictions that one earns the right to lead. For principled leaders concentrate on doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do. With this kind of determined "will" within all levels of the school organization, horizontally and vertically, our schools will indeed be hallmarks of excellence. This Tuesday provides a time and a place to start. That is how we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.