Monday, August 4, 2014

Ask Good Questions

The name in this story has been changed to protect his FERPA, HIPPA, IDEA, IPA, and ERISA rights. Let's call this young man Daryl Gardner. Daryl was a ninth grader and I was a junior high assistant principal. Daryl did not particularly like school, and to be fair, school did not particularly like him. I served the role of match-maker, trying to bring the star-crossed lovers together, but had limited success. He was a nice-enough kid, certainly not an academic, but not a mean-spirited young man. Today we might say he was unengaged.

In a large junior high school, the office can be a hectic place between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. Kids coming and going and the phone ringing off the hook with parents calling about absences and the like. Always the helpful soldier, I grabbed the phone early one morning because the receptionist was on another call. Now this part of the story sounds better than it reads. If you want to get the full effect, you may want to read it out loud.
Me: South Junior High School, may I help you?
Caller: Daryl Gardner will not be in today, he is sick.
Me: Daryl, is that you?
Caller: No, this is my dad.
Me: See you first hour, Daryl.
Caller: OK

It is always important to ask the right questions. Assistant principals are like lawyers and cops, they always know the answer to the question before they ask it. I knew Daryl, and knew his dad, and I knew his dad never called him in sick. So I asked.

This is the season for elections. Everyone should be voting on Tuesday and again in November. Voters need to pay heed and ask good questions. Campaign rhetoric can be true (hey, maybe Daryl WAS sick) but misleading at the same time.

At KASB we often get requests to list candidate votes on key issues. We can do so, but how someone votes on a bill can be misconstrued. A representative might be strongly in favor of parts of a bill, but strongly opposed to others. They may vote against something that appears to be pro-education for reasons that are also pro-education. It is important to ask questions! Why did this legislator vote for or against this bill might be more important than how did this person vote on this bill. Ask questions.

Don't accept as fact what is printed on that shiny flyer you get in the mail before the election. If an issue is so simple it fits on a flyer, there has to be more to the story. Well-informed voters know the rest of the story.

Please remember to vote on Tuesday, and in November. Daryl probably won't. I think he is sick...

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