System failure is leadership failure. I hope that I have been clear on that concept. The effect of the mistakes I described in 3/30/2011 post, “Diagnosis of System Failure,” does not just apply in schools. It also applies in other settings, like running a state. I’ll just give you one big Texas example. School finance is really a simple equation (no, I’m not naive). First, we decide the level of investment we want to make to adequately educate the populace. This is an infrastructure investment. As we invest more, we expect to realize a greater payoff. The payoff is the difference between a workforce made up primarily of laborers or a workforce made up primarily of knowledge users and knowledge builders. The decision on the level of investment is a leadership decision. If leadership determines that the needs of the state are best met by having lots of ditch diggers, stand up and say that. If leadership determines that the needs of the state are best met by having lots of knowledge workers, stand up and say that. But don’t remain mute on the topic and don’t tell us we can have knowledge workers at a ditch digger price. When leadership does either of these, they are either not leading, or lying. The second part of the equation, after it has been determined at what level we will invest in infrastructure (that’s what schools and an educated populace represents), then we have to fund that investment with revenue streams (taxes). Nobody likes taxes. But the role of leadership is to advance responsible behavior and influence people to make personal commitments and/or sacrifices for long-term gain and the greater good. To continue to advocate for the reduction of revenue with the promise of increased infrastructure production is again either poor leadership or a lie. As I stated at the beginning of this post, system failure is leadership failure. Though never healthy (or a good model), over the past six years the Texas (you can insert your state name here) school finance system has failed. Key leadership today, is the same that it was six years ago. That’s a clue. Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…Follow Sean Cain on