We’ve heard the stories from other school districts – no Musical Chairs, no Duck Duck Goose, no Tag, etc. Why? Because these games are inherently unfair or somebody might feel left out.
I live in one of the most conservative areas in Illinois – Effingham County. Fox News once said that Effingham County is the “base of the base of the Illinois Republican Party”. So you can imagine my surprise when I heard what took place at Effingham Junior High School this past week.
My girlfriend’s granddaughter was running for 8th Grade class President at EJHS & therefore, there would be an election by her peers. My future granddaughter was ready to campaign & was excited at the prospect of winning class President. She even spent her own time after school designing homemade campaign fliers.
Then she went to school.
When she went to the EJHS Office to get her fliers approved so she could hang them in the hallways, she was informed by the secretary that her campaign fliers were not going to be approved. Of course, she was upset by this because she had spent so much time making her posters.
When she got home, her mother called the school to find out why her daughter’s homemade campaign fliers were not approved. The answer? “Because it would make it unfair for the other candidates”. She was also informed that all campaign posters are supposed to be done using computers to make it fair.
First, isn’t making students do the work on computers inherently unfair? Not every student has a computer at home & if they do the work at school not every student has the same computer & creative skills to make a campaign poster that would look like everyone else.
Second, what is more inherently unfair than elections, whether in life or in school? Somebody has to lose & somebody has to win. In life, some candidates have a bunch of money, others do not. Some candidates have a grassroots effort in place & others do not. So why make elections fair in school? What possible lesson can you teach a kid if you level the playing field for a school election?!
Life is unfair & life’s outcomes are unfair. Yet our schools are teaching our kids that life IS fair & outcomes should be as fair as possible. That’s not how society works. That’s not how our economy works. That’s not how the workplace works. And it sure isn’t how elections work.
I’m ecstatic that my future granddaughter won her election but the ends don’t justify the means. She should have been able to campaign as she saw fit within normal school rules. The same goes for the other kids who ran for school office.
Why get bent out of shape over such a trivial thing when she won? Because “rules” like this are wussifying our kids to the reality of life & cuts down on any creativity or imagination they might have – the later an important skill to have in the workplace. This time it’ll be making school elections fair. Next time it’ll be getting rid of games that produce a clear winner & loser. Then it’ll be nobody gets an F on anything. Slippery slope my friends. Always, always be mindful of the future.
WACO, Tex., February 28, 2013 – I recently had the pleasure of seeing “Born Yesterday,” an intellectual comedy directed by Jessi Hampton at the Baylor Department of Theatre Arts. The play was originally written by Garson Kanin and first performed in 1946. Set in Washington D.C.,It follows the story of Billie Dawn, mistress of the rough junkyard tycoon, Harry Brock. She is taken advantage of by Brock’s bribery and corruption, completely unaware of the consequences of his actions.
The play documents Billie’s education in the realms of politics and history as she learns to understand Brock’s unethical actions while discovering the beauty of a democratic system. Becoming politically informed allows her to stand up against the injustice in politics.
The plot carries remarkable similarities to our political system today. The danger political ignorance poses to our society can be easily seen by recent statistics. According to George Mason historian Rick Shenkman, only two of five voters can name the three branches of the government, and 49% of Americans think the President has the right to suspend the Constitution.
Ilya Somin, professor of law at George Mason University, agrees that this political ignorance threatens our democratic system. He says, “Democracy demands an informed electorate […] Voters who lack sufficient knowledge may be manipulated by elites. They may also demand policies that contravene their own interests.”
So why not stay “independent” of politics? Many assume independents are free-thinkers, not tied to a particular partisan agenda, and generally more intellectual than those who identify as either conservative or liberal. However, this theory supposes an idealistic view of independents that starkly contradicts empirical observations.
According to a 2008 American National Election Study by the University of Michigan, independents are much less likely to follow current events, research political information, watch the news, or donate to candidates than those who report an affiliation with one political party. Most self-declared independents also confess to “leaning” toward one side or another. Those who do are almost 20% more likely to vote than “pure independents.”
Choosing a political side does not indicate a sacrifice of reason, principles, or free thinking. Party labels do not imply blind adherence to the agenda. The choice of party instead reflects a coherent set of informed decisions. Those who are not ashamed to stand behind their political convictions have already done much clear, rational analysis to decide which party or candidate best fits their views on most issues. There are still varying degrees on the left-right continuum, but a middle grounded in apathy is not the ideal place to be by any means.
According to “Born Yesterday” director Hampton, “It is harder for people to be taken advantage of, by government or anybody else, if they are well-educated, which is why Devery (a character in the play) exclaims, ‘A little education is a dangerous thing.’”
Admittedly, “Born Yesterday” takes on a slightly idealistic nature. It is naive to think that if only American citizens (especially independents) would read a little more, the problems of government would magically be wiped away. Becoming politically informed may not solve all of society’s problems, but it is a good place to start.
By: Danny Huizinga