Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot: The Illinois Edition

Exclamation MarkThe story is linked in case you missed the news on 09 July 2021; Illinois has become the first state in AMERICA to mandate ASIAN History be taught in K-12 education.  Let that sink in for a moment.  AMERICAN History has been abused, twisted, contorted, and NOT taught in AMERICAN schools in ANY of the 50-US States.  But Illinois wants students to learn Asian History.  Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot Illinois!

What is the reported reasoning for this move?

According to a statement from Governor JB Pritzker, the reason for this move is as follows:

With the recent rise in acts of violence and bigotry against the Asian American community, teaching students about the rich culture and important contributions of the Asian American community throughout history will help combat false stereotypes” [emphasis mine].

For your information, the legislation is called the “Teaching Equitable Asian American History Act,” and the special interest group pushing this legislative nightmare is Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago.  The website includes a Los Angeles branch, the Asian Law Caucus, AAJC, and an Atlanta branch.  Another special interest group involved in this legislation is PAVE (Pan Asian Voter Empowerment). My first question about this legislation comes from the name, “What is equitable Asian American History, especially when American History is not being taught?”Lemmings 5

What is in the curriculum?

The curriculum declares it is compliant with Common Core standards, which doesn’t mean anything as teaching masturbation to first graders is compliant with Common Core Standards.  However, PBS Learning media has a website dedicated to the curriculum plan for teaching Asian American History, even though the curriculum does not describe “equitable.”  PBS Learning media claims to be “pleased to present over 30-lesson plans based on a fiver hour documentary Asian Americans in American History.  While the Illinois legislation claims that K-12 will begin learning about Asian History, the reality on the PBS Learning media is that the published lesson plans only go from third grade to twelfth grade.  Leading to my next question, “Where is this push for historical teaching coming from?”

Plato 2I have not viewed the series; I have barely scraped the surface of the curriculum offered.  What I have seen of the curriculum worries me.  I call it “whitewashing” history, to glance over the actions of one group to reflect how other groups were treated, with the intent of stirring the racial divides and creating more chasms based on race alone.  What I see in this curriculum does nothing to “ … teach students about the rich culture and important contributions of the Asian American community throughout history” or to “combat false stereotypes.”  I ran a search engine using the string, “Violent migrant worker strikes, involving Asian people,” and the first item on the list returned originates with the Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project, sponsored by the University of Washington.

The context, labor union organizing, which everyone should know, includes the growth and development of Marxist ideology in America.  How did the labor unions create a space for themselves?  They drove wedges between groups of people based solely upon race, creating contention, becoming violent, and hiding behind equity and fairness to escape responsibility and accountability for laws they sundered.

Let me be clear!

Knowledge Check!Let me be clear; every group across the skin color spectrum has historically had problems in American society.  Any time race separates, chaos, confusion, and violence are bred!  I am proud that America has grown out of oppressing people based on the color of their skin and do not judge American history as racist just because historically, people acted out of fear when treating their fellow men fairly.  History is full of people who made terrible choices, and teaching that these choices were poorly made is important, but race, religion, handicap, etc., should NOT be the focus on the content in history.  The focus of history should be on what grew out of specific actions in specific epochs of time.

America IS better for the Civil War, even though the US Government continues to hinder economically and is biased against the states that formed the Confederate States.  A dumb historical decision that has kept many states from achieving greatness is due to President Lincoln’s death and the hostility in the US House of Representatives, the US Senate, and President Andrew Johnson.  All of whom believed that the Confederate States needed to be mightily punished.  In contrast, President Lincoln was pushing for national forgiveness.  Thus, we need to focus on the events, not the race, color, lines of separation and division, but on the outcomes and the fruits from those decisions when teaching history!The Duty of Americans

State’s Rights

I affirm in clear language that a state has the right to set the curriculum of government-mandated schools.  I support state’s rights to the fullest and would see each state prepare their students to meet the world and win!  Paradoxically, I also affirm in language clear that this legislation will do NOTHING to “combat false stereotypes” but will only increase racial division and disharmony in Illinois and any other state who refuses to learn the lessons from history.

History and Racial Focus

Content of their CharacterThink about this quote for a moment, who are the biggest race hustlers in America?  History has taught that when race is the only concern worth knowing people care only about race, to their demise.  Focusing on race is the sole reason why I have questioned, and continue to question, the validity of the arguments for National “Name your Favorite Minority” Month celebrations.  There are absolutes in this world; focusing solely upon race as a choice, will breed racial tensions as a consequence, is an absolute.  Recent history under President Obama reflected this exact issue to the Nth degree, yet nobody wants to have that discussion.  Why; because of race!

Bob MarleyWhen your focus is solely upon an individual’s race, race will be the only thing learned, the only lesson absorbed, and the fruit of that lesson are bitter.  Have people from various races achieved great things; absolutely, but why should their achievements be diminished by focusing solely upon their race?  Why should their achievements only be mentioned during “Name your Favorite Minority” monthly celebrations?  Has the 1960s taught us nothing about the character, knowledge, talents, curious minds, and the work performed where race was NEVER an issue?  I have books galore in my home; I continue to collect books about famous people of great accomplishment; I have never cared a whit about that person’s sex or gender.  Why; because their sex and gender, race, skin color, religion, handicap, or heritage have never been a factor.  As a kid, a thrill ran through me when I read the preamble to the US Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness [emphasis mine].

Even today, these words continue to guide me.  Show me; where in the Declaration of Independence does it discuss sex, race, heritage, religion, handicap, etc.?  NOWHERE!  A lesson America needs to relearn if she is to survive.  What hinders the pursuit of happiness, capturing inalienable rights, and stops liberty; focusing upon that which divides instead of that which unites!

PatriotismFrom the National Archives website, we find the following regarding the Declaration of Independence:

The Declaration of Independence states the principles on which our government, and our identity as Americans, are based. Unlike the other founding documents, the Declaration of Independence is not legally binding, but it is powerful. Abraham Lincoln called it “a rebuke and a stumbling-block to tyranny and oppression.” It continues to inspire people around the world to fight for freedom and equality” [emphasis in original].

Think about this for a moment.  The American Identity, the bedrock principles upon which America was built, the power cell for liberty and freedom across the world, begins with a simple truth:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness [emphasis mine].Image - John Wayne Quote

A document that is not legally binding holds power to inspire actions that unite people, provided our focus is not on those things which separate us.  Cementing the lesson discussed herein, focus on race and racial division is the only lesson learned, and the resulting fruit is bitter, chaos ensues, and problems abound in violence.  Why have we not learned these lessons from the 1960s, the Watt’s Riots, the death toll in Chicago that makes war zones safer than the streets of Chicago; the focus is on race, not the potential.  The focus is on the sex, the invented genders, the handicaps, the religions, the heritages, etc., not on what is essential, character and potential, freedom, liberty, and equality under the law.

Knowledge Check!We need to get back to teaching history, where the focus is on how the decisions and actions from the past hinder or help the present so that the future can be better.  Failing that, we desperately need to cease focusing upon race, gender, sex, religion, handicap, and heritage as these things only matter to the individual and not to historical records.  Failing that, America fails, and the light of liberty and freedom will be lost to the annals of history forever.  So, gather the fruit you choose, focus on race if you prefer, focus on gender, sex, handicap, veterans status, and every other line of separation.  Your fruit gathered will be most bitter indeed, for you will miss the rich tapestry of human interaction, for the dirt caught in the fabric.

Powering my third and final question to the legislative and executive branches of Illinois, “Knowing all this, why are you focused on race and forcing students to focus solely upon race?”

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Department of Veterans Affairs – Xray Follies – Shifting the Paradigms

I-CareDuring the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been trying to give the benefit of the doubt to the VA; I was wrong to extend this kindness.  The Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs-Office of the Inspector General (VA-OIG) due to reports of leadership failure and manipulation of radiology reports.  The VA-OIG found gross errors in treatment delays, misleading reporting in records, and the leadership both knew and were tolerating this behavior.  From the report, we find that the VA-OIG, “… found evidence of manipulation and vulnerability of the electronic health record and mismanagement of the Medical Imaging Service. Facility leaders failed to successfully manage or address the impact of interpersonal conflicts within the Medical Imaging Service that included intimidation of staff radiologists.

Sadly, I am not surprised at the findings in this investigation; for a considerable time now, the VA has suffered from leadership irregularities, poor leadership, mismanagement, and over management in the majority of the local hospitals.  This situation remains highly frustrating to the veterans cursed with needing the VA’s services, and this madness must cease!  If it were not for another VA-OIG report declaring follies and leadership failure specifically in the radiological department, the dire situation would not have been so egregious.

The VA-OIG began their report of the VA Illiana Health Care System in Danville, Illinois, stating the following:

This report is compelling because it discusses significant patient safety issues including a radiologist’s error rate, the facility’s radiology quality assurance program, and a recommendation to the Under Secretary for Health regarding adopting national radiology guidelines.”

The VA-OIG inspection began due to radiological concerns and a high error rate.  The VA-OIG discovered such a poor error rate, a second investigation was required to expand upon the issues found in the first investigation.  A radiologist had an incredibly high error rate, and the facility leaders did nothing.  Does this not initiate a leadership cleaning of the house to remove the rot and begin to build community trust; if not, why?

To be clear, both the local hospital leaders and the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) leaders are at fault for poor leadership decisions.  From the VA-OIG report, we find, “Veterans Integrated Service Network and facility leaders failed to conduct a thorough and impartial review related to the OIG request to evaluate the original allegations.”  Leading to another question, actually repeated now for multiple years, why are the local leaders, who created the problems, “conducting a review” during the VA-OIG investigation?  Isn’t this akin to placing a bank robber in charge of the criminal investigation into the bank robbery?

X-RayThe primary care doctor, emergency room doctors, and more all depend upon the radiologist report as the VA doctors no longer read x-rays, MRI’s, CT Scans, due to the complexity of the imaging.  Thus, any error in the radiological report causes significant patient care delays, harm, or death.  Yet, at two geographically separate VISN’s and Hospitals, the VA-OIG is reporting poor QA and high error rates in radiological reporting.  Compounded by leadership failure at both the local hospital and the VISN level.  The VA-OIG reports do not relate that anyone was fired, forced to change jobs, or other remedial actions taken beyond making “suggestions” for improvement at the federal, VISN, and local hospital levels.  What significantly increases the problem, these same radiological records form the backbone of the compensation and pension decisions.  Downstream issues were not in the scope of either radiological investigation. Still, every error in the VA bureaucracy has a significant downstream impact that always seems to be forgotten or overlooked.

Secretary Wilkie, lacking a downstream review from the VA-OIG investigations, places patients at significant risk and incredible harm.  Consider the following; the VA-OIG reported last year (2019) that radiological reports on spinal problems were not adjudicated correctly in compensation and pension claims from 2002-2006 roughly.  No downstream review occurred, and thousands of veterans’ claims are locked in the appeals process for decisions that should have triggered an automatic analysis and new radiological reports ordered immediately upon the conclusion of the VA-OIG’s investigation.  Where is the culpability and responsibility to the veterans harmed and suffering all because the VA did not do their collective job?

Problems

Now, at least two VA facilities are hindered by radiological errors and poor leadership at the hospital and VISN level.  Thus, the veterans need to know, can any radiological reporting be trusted with this blemish on the VA record?  Quality assurance (QA) is the backbone of the radiological imaging and reporting processes to assure the patient that proper diagnosing is happening.  Yet, QA is the problem in two different VA-OIG investigations of the radiological departments, and how many other VA Medical Centers have the same problem but have not been caught?  Where is the accountability for preventing these issues in other VA Medical Centers?

Here are five suggestions for rebuilding the reputation in the community, and in the VA Health Care System (VHA):

  1. Downstream investigations are critical and need initiation upon discovery by the VA-OIG of wrongdoing. Downstream investigating includes compensation and pension decisions, patient medical record discovery, and fixing the problems in the healthcare record.  Build an internal team of various professionals who can investigate and initiate these reviews.  Doing so will build trust, save millions of dollars in wrongly adjudicated compensation and pension claims, and saves lives in the VHA.
  2. Since the leadership failures are so common, so prevalent, and creating such an incredible talent drain, all while risking patient health, it is time for the VA to begin growing leaders through a VA University program. Do not allow leadership currently working for the VA to apply without good reasons; allow open applications where students can learn, can graduate with a degree, and can work in VA leadership roles as they gain a formal education.
  3. Begin weeding the leadership for the most disingenuous, detestable, and despicable leaders, replacing them with people who have never worked for the VA but are capable and willing from other industries. The VA needs new ideas, new leaders, and new methods if they are to fix the current problems.
  4. Put teeth into the VA-OIG investigations. These problems as so egregious and widespread that the VA-OIG needs tools to demand compliance and insist upon remediation.  In three VA Medical Centers in Albuquerque, NM., Salt Lake City, UT., and a VA Clinic in Ashtabula, OH., I have heard the following, or something similar, from employees regarding VA-OIG investigations, “Don’t worry.”  Never again should any VA Employee not worry about being investigated by the VA-OIG.
  5. ISO9001Start using an ISO 9001 for healthcare as a QA program where processes and procedures are written down and followed. QA should be a program that fits holistically and improves people.  Quality assurance should be a constant learning evaluation that never ends.  Yet, somehow the VA, including the VBA, the VHA, and the National Cemeteries, always seem to not have a quality program.  Implement the ISO 9001 one VA Medical Center at a time until a whole VISN is working under the ISO program.  This allows the VA to learn and use these learning moments to build anew that which has fallen into disrepute.

Leadership CartoonSecretary Wilkie, some will suggest these ideas are expensive, but how expensive has the revolving door in human resources been for talent drain?  How costly has failed training programs been?  How expensive is the appeals process to compensation and pension decisions both in green and blue money?  The short answer, too bloody expensive.  Thus, it is time to begin looking for innovative ideas, using new ideas, employing new talent, and demanding higher returns for the taxpayer investment in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

©Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

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