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November Thoughts from the Principal

Thoughts from the Principal

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to fill in for one of Ms. Sayles’ afternoon social studies classes as she was gone to coach a junior high volleyball game.   It was fun to get back in the classroom, where that day we discussed Americans’ form of government: Democracy—both its strengths and greatest challenges.  When I taught United States government, I attempted to help my students understand the difference between ‘Government’ and ‘Politics’ by offering the following football analogy:

  Government is the rulebook whereas Politics is how you play the game.  The sport of football has a rulebook (Government), providing the guidelines and framework which outline the manner in which the game is expected to be played (Ex: You will get four attempts to gain a 1st down, which will be located 10 yards from the line of scrimmage (unless of course you play 6-man!), a touchdown will be worth six points and a field goal worth three, etc.). Within the framework that the rulebook provides, different individuals (Politicians) and teams (Political Parties), interpret the rulebook and establish unique philosophies and strategies.  While one team may prefer to keep the ball on the ground while adopting the ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’ philosophy, their opponents sharing the same field of competition may choose to go in an entirely different direction, slinging the ball all around the yard in an ‘Air Raid’ spread attack. Both of these strategies, although vastly different, are well within the guidelines established by the rulebook that both teams must follow.  

  The old-timer, football purist may be annoyed, or even downright angry, at the team who spreads the field and throws the ball 20 yards downfield every snap, as this hardly resembles the game he played as a child and grew to love.  The fan sitting across the stadium may be frustrated, if not furious, at the team which, in his mind, has failed to adapt to the current game and times and instead hands it off to the fullback for dive after boring dive.   Many fans establish particular dislike for the opposing team’s quarterback, who they view as excessively flamboyant when he taunts the opposing team and their fans after scoring a touchdown.  Their short memory has conveniently allowed them to forget that they were avidly cheering on and encouraging their quarterback as he engaged in similar tactics following last week’s thrilling overtime victory.    

  I told the class in which I was substituting, our conversation surrounding Democracy should not be political in nature (Should we run or throw the ball on this play?), but rather one focused on Government (those who created football’s rulebook, although containing flaws, created something that is beneficial to many).  I was attempting to make the point that Democracy is a beautiful thing that we are very fortunate to be participants, if we so choose.  While politics can, at times, become emotional and divisive, ‘We the People’ established a Governmental structure second to none.  The Chiefs’ fan will continue to discuss all of the Broncos shortcoming.  Just as the Broncos fan will kindly remind the Chiefs of their ongoing Super Bowl drought at every chance.  The polarizing quarterback’s career will come to an end in four short years, replaced by someone else, with his own ideas of how the game is to best be played, along with effective strategies of how to get under his opponent's’ skin.  The coaches and owners will come and go, as they too are just temporary participants in the game.  Through it all, the only constant will be the sport of football itself.  Bigger than any trendy offensive scheme or outspoken owner, the sport of football lives on.  Bigger than any cocky superstar or team temporarily reigning as Super Bowl champs, the sport of football lives on.  For over 200 years, Democracy is the only thing that has proven to be undefeated.

  Please excuse my analogy, as my original purpose for this month’s update was to discuss government at its most local, and perhaps most pure level: School District’s Board of Education elections.  I, along with many other involved and interested citizens, recently helped fill the cafeteria to listen to, and ask questions of the five candidates running for the three available Board seats.  Adhering to the same advice I gave the students that day by asking them to replace conversation on Politics with conversation surrounding Government, I do not write to endorse or discount our candidates’ personal perspectives, motives, or agenda.  Instead, I wish to applaud all five candidates for actively participating in our Democracy, albeit running for an oftentimes thankless position.  As one candidate stated during the forum, many school districts across the state have no need for Board elections, instead they are out begging, and in some cases, appointing apathetic citizens to the position.  I think our five quality candidates are symbolic of our community as a whole.  Our community is interested, invested, and involved.  Thank you Ken, Paul, Amber, Brandi, and Kyle.  Although elections are unpredictable, I already know what the results will be; two strong candidates will unfortunately lose, and the entire community of Idalia will win.

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