By Patrick M. Pizzo II
I grew up as a Reagan Republican, and I have some opinions on our current political paradigm. Ronald Reagan, whose flaws are perseverated over in our time, had some great traits that are applicable to our current environment. He had leadership and vision. He understood that we could be more than we were, and that America was created to be the greatest nation ever known by meeting the needs and desires of all of its people. True Republicans should follow his path, and people of other views should reconsider the intent of his policies.
My views on how to address society’s ills have evolved since my youth. I hope that would be true of any lifelong learner, but my core principles and goals are unchanged. Opportunity is the key to success, and the respect for liberty — for yourself and for your fellow members of society — is a sacred responsibility. That was Reagan’s vision through my 16-year-old eyes in the 1980s, and it’s a vision that is still applicable to those seeking equitable opportunities for all.
Success is found in increasing economic growth, not in fighting over the distribution of a diminishing pool of resources. Collaboration in our country can spur a new generation of leadership for us, and for our ideas. Tearing one another down weakens us both nationally and internationally.
Remember, America is predominantly a collection of immigrants, including my ancestors, who fled static societies for new opportunities. We are still a collection of immigrants. Our combined skills and perspectives are a unique and powerful force.
I believe in equity, because it means giving people what they need to succeed, and most often, all they need is a fair chance. Each person’s path is different, and those differences should be respected. The most important ingredient for success will always be the will of the individual. The goal of equity is to remove, or mitigate, systemic barriers to enable people to reach their potential.
In education there is an accepted belief that we need to differentiate instruction. Differentiation of instruction is an acknowledgment that individuals have their own educational needs. Equity is similar to that concept, because each person has his or her own needs to meet their full potential. Equity is meeting each individual where they are and creating a path forward consistent with their abilities and ambition. Creating an environment where individual have the opportunity to succeed is a very Reagan-like initiative.
Equity 4 LI Youth is a forum for identifying opportunities, with volunteers helping young people see possible paths to success. We are not a governmental agency, and we have not raised any money — we are just people from all political perspectives trying to help. We do so by partnering with altruistic groups representing a wide array of causes, and providing resources to help promote equitable opportunities for anyone who is interested. Their race, religion, gender or politics don’t matter to us; all deserve a fair chance to reach their goals.
We are open to all points of view. Books written from any perspective must be respected, not feared. Canceling another person’s ability to experience literature based solely on one’s own political perspective indicates a fear that there is weakness in that perspective. Fear drives hate, and hate brings more fear.
We believe in reading and analyzing works from multiple perspectives, listening to all positions and engaging in fact-based debate. Hearing and respecting a different point of view doesn’t mean you are capitulating to it. Reagan stressed self-reliance, not the destruction of other members of the American experiment in democracy. There is room in the shining city on the hill for people of all beliefs.
I like to study and evaluate all points of view. No single perspective has all the best ideas, or only bad ideas; there is always information to glean from listening to, and learning about, others. Even if all you learn is how to refine your argument, you’ve still gained knowledge and understanding of another’s position. And the experience forces you to critically evaluate your own views. All gain from a sharing of ideas.
Reagan wasn’t always right, but he wasn’t always wrong, either.
Patrick M. Pizzo II, Ed.D., is the assistant superintendent for business and finance in the East Meadow School District, the president of Equity 4 LI Youth and the Education Committee chair for the Hempstead branch of the NAACP.