Back in the day, children and other child-like people—and I mean that in a very good way—were inclined to read the fairy tales and fantasy works (such as The Princess and the Goblin and At the Back of the North Wind) of a Scotsman named George MacDonald. He influenced more well-known writers who came after him, including C.S. Lewis, and it's a MacDonald quote that serves as the title of this post.
I thought of that after voting in a local school election yesterday and again whilst reading a letter to the editor in this morning's Ithaca Journal.
Do you think that all school elections look like this?
Or perhaps this?
You know, with lists of elegible voters and that sort of thing?
Well, think again.
Those are larger school districts in the photos—Ithaca and Elmira. Smaller school districts don't need to use machines for voting and pretty much anyone can show up and vote. Many districts don't keep a voter registration book or use the voter roll book from the board of elections. You just show up, fill out a line on a sign-up sheet as though you were simply attending any old meeting, and bob's your uncle. Oh, yes—you'll probably be asked for ID, which proves absolutely nothing, particularly when the poll workers have no idea what roads and streets fall within—or without—the school district.
Pretty sloppy, to put it kindly.
...If both school boards vote to move forward beyond the study phase, taxpayers in both districts will vote on the potential merger, and both must approve the measure for it to proceed...
And the integrity of the election process in a small school district is unimpeachable, is it not? Nothing to see here, move along.
Even in a nearby large school district where school votes follow the familiar pattern of a general election complete with voter roll books and the need to match signatures, e.g., the ballot reports come in to a sealed room and are tabulated by the Superintendent and his staff. If the vote were close, as it may well be in the case of a merger, well...
In the second half of the nineteenth century when George MacDonald was writing, having someone's trust was something to be both admired and envied. So, school districts, which would you rather be—loved or trusted?