Saturday, October 1, 2011

Maybe Dover bond issues supporters should change strategy

Originally published in the Tuscarawas County edition of the Bargain Hunter. Check the BH website for additional reactions.
If someone were to ask me today what the correct strategy is to obtain passage of the bond issue that would fund a new Dover High, I’d tell them to do … nothing.
I’m not saying the initial strategy – fact sheets, town hall meetings, videos and so on – was wrong. But with a month to go before the election, now is the time to avoid debate and get the “yes” voters to actually go to the polls.
Only the community’s future is at stake.
It seems that any story published in the local paper triggers an overwhelming outpouring of negativity that seems to last for days (It’s the old “What part of ‘no’ don’t they understand?” mentality) and seems to be welcomed by the institutional purveyor of opinion.
Over the last few weeks, a number of voters have asked me what I think about the need for a new high school. And my answer oftentimes doesn’t sit well with them.
I tell them that the current Dover High is decrepit and, with a few exceptions (the auditorium, gymnasium and library), is an embarrassment to the community that prides itself on caring about kids and families. It is testimony to the staff and administration that Dover graduates go on to great things.
(And those same kids probably won’t come back home anytime soon, but that’s another story for another day.)
“That’s a horrible site for a new school,” I’m told. Or, “They should just buy up the surrounding neighborhood.” Or, “The economy is bad.” Or, “I can’t afford it.”
OK, the last one I can understand. There are some folks who are just barely holding on, living on Social Security and hoping that Medicare covers enough of their required health care.
Then, of course, there are others who can’t afford it because they have a big new house in the trendiest of subdivisions; they have brand new cars in the garage (at least one with a luxury nameplate); they have a premium cable or satellite TV package; they have the fastest broadband Internet service; and, last but not least, they have a couple of smartphones with two-year contracts.
My goodness, people need their smartphones, don’t you know?
(News note: The Associated Press has declared the term “smartphone” is one word now instead of two because smartphones – iPhones, Androids and Blackberries – have become ingrained in the culture. Feature phones are cellphones that primarily have primitive capabilities, such as that old-fashioned thing called “making a phone call.”)
Do you understand what a smartphone costs?
Generally, if you want one from a major carrier, you’ll pay up to $299 (that’s $600 for two if you’re buying for a couple). The contract on two smartphones could run up to $200 or so a month, which is $4,800 over the course of the two-year contract.
So, investing in your children’s or your grandchildren’s education and/or your community’s future is not a viable option in these difficult times, especially if you’re paying for a couple of smartphones (tongue firmly planted in cheek).
Community’s future?
A new high school is another selling point for your community. What, you don’t think people looking to locate their companies – high tech or low tech – look at the educational infrastructure of a community? Do you think a CEO of a successful, modern company wants to send his kid to a school that is basically a firetrap?
I think the folks who took on the thankless endeavor of promoting the bond issue did a terrific job of attempting to inform the public. And I hope for all the future generations of Dover kids that the public eventually sees the wisdom of upgrading its high school.
Quiet now. Let the debates die.
Follow me on Facebook and Twitter (dfarrell_dover).


Anonymous said...

There is such a tidal wave of distrust, disdain, and weariness with politicians and the political process at all levels of government that a lot of people now won't believe or trust any of "them"...namely leaders of public institutions like schools, local government, or business leaders. These are the very people leading the campaign to build a new Dover high school. I think you are right...stop the sales pitch...minds are made up. Concentrate on getting out the Yes voters.


Anonymous said...

Melvin, Do not confuse the schools and local government, they are both separate and govern differently.

Mike Lauber said...

As one of those bond issue leaders, I appreciate your comments and suggestions but respectfully disagree. Fact is, poll after poll tells us that, in campaigns of all sorts, many don't make up their minds until shortly before voting. We keep finding support among the undecideds who have absorbed the answers to these three questions: Why now? Why new? Why there?