Letter: Change unsettles, but can be positive

I encourage Advocate readers to carefully study the article by Stephen Ward on Feb. 9. titled “Central blazed trail for incorporation.”

Mr. Ward conducted an unbiased assessment of the promises before Central incorporated with the reality of those promises today. The article is timely because many EBR residents are considering the proposal to create the city of St. George. Readers will draw their own conclusions of the parallels between the actual incorporation of Central with the proposal for the city of St. George.

Many EBR residents are concerned about the performance of our public schools. An article in the Advocate dated Oct. 27, 2013, noted that out of 71 districts, EBR ranked 41st, Zachary ranked firsst, and Ascension ranked third. A significant number of EBR families opt out of the public schools, preferring private institutions for primary and secondary education.

I suggest readers examine their 2013 EBR taxes — it’s the equivalent of buying a pair of LSU football season tickets (some purchasing stadium club seats) and choosing to never attend any of the games!

Not all EBR families can afford private schools, and those who can are not assured of being accepted in the private school of their choice. The private schools are not the remedy for poor performing public schools. The Advocate noted in a Feb. 7 article “between ’07-’11, EBR parish lost an estimated 1,463 more residents than it gained — and those leaving for neighboring parishes have often done so out of concerns over schools or crime.”

Robert Kennedy said: “Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.” The proposed city of St. George challenges the current EBR establishment; it can be unsettling and fearful to some. Public sector institutions and bureaucracies do not actively seek change, as the past and present cultures are comfortable.

In contrast, private sector businesses have experienced significant change during the past 30 years. Peter Drucker, a renowned management consultant and author, noted, “The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.” Businesses that do not embrace change, will not survive long term. For those in business, the only constant is change.

Margaret Mead, an American cultural anthropologist, said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” I am encouraged that the proposal to create the city of St. George is being led by EBR volunteers with a genuine desire to improve the quality of education for its residents. It is the very essence of democracy in action.

Chris Rials

chemical engineer

Baton Rouge