Editorial: Seniors took us to school
Op-Ed · May 03, 2013

The West Branch High School seniors who approached with Board of Education about keeping graduation in the “old gym” serve as a good example for how we should approach an elected board with our concerns.

• Do your homework — make sure you know exactly where the administration stands on an issue. Don’t base your statements on hearsay.

• Be respectful — losing your cool only makes the administration defensive. The students did not lay blame; rather they smiled a lot and listened. And they asked questions with genuine interest.

• Consider a compromise — keep in mind that the administration has limited resources, and many other issues to address than your own.

• Offer suggestions — don’t just say “no” — consider why the council/board wanted to make the switch and address those concerns.

At the federal level, we see an awful lot of grandstanding by lobbyists, pundits and members of Congress tearing apart straw-man arguments and blaming the other guy. No wonder they seem disingenuous anytime they say they want to reach across the aisle. No wonder Congress has such pitiful approval ratings and so few people want to trust any of them.

At the local level, though, we realize that if we want things to get done, then we each must assume some responsibility. It’s not the city’s problem, or the school’s problem — it’s our problem.

That’s why grandstanding and arguing fails so frequently at the local level. That’s why we want the city and school to ask for our input. That’s why lone wolves pushing my-way-or-the-highway often see little accomplished.

So here’s to the teenagers for giving us a bit of Civic Responsibility 101: You got what you wanted because it could be done, and you did your part to make it happen. And, as we can see, the school administration so clearly recognized your efforts that they happily changed their minds.

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