Dr. Michael L. Ford
9 March 2008
When looking for ways to demonstrate and give lessons in morals and ethics, the best way is to do it the way the Bible often did, from real life. And, many Bible lessons are based on people making the wrong decisions. These are the illustrations that best stick with us it seems. So, when I stumbled across an article titled “Phone message goes viral,” written by Washington Post writer Michael Chandler, I recognized an opportunity. Events in the article show a number or errors in judgment that illustrate the lack of responsibility and elitist attitude so prevalent among people who are supposed to serve the public and among those involved in public education today especially.
Our story begins with Dave Kori, a high school senior. When school was not called off during a snowfall, he thought he had the right to know why not? Now this seems a perfectly reasonable thing to want to know since moving about when it snows entails considerable risk both to the people involved as well as to the transportation they use. If someone wants me to risk life and property I would want to know that it is necessary to do so. I do not think the legitimacy of the concern would be diminished because the person making the inquiry is only seventeen. When a school official makes the decision to have school during inclement weather he is forcing a lot of people to move about risking both private and public transport as well as lives.
Dave Kori said he tried unsuccessfully to contact Dean Tistadt, Chief Operating Officer for Fairfax County Schools, at work. This brings up the question of where the Dean was when he had forced other people, teachers and students alike, to get out in the weather to come to school? If he was at work why had he insulated himself from the public? If he was in a meeting or some other duty why could not young Mr. Kori leave a message with a secretary and have it returned? Dave Kori thought he had a basic right to petition a public official for more information. I think he does too, in spite of his age, but evidently the elitists in Fairfax County have set up a system to keep those rude inquiries from common rabble from happening.
It has occurred to me that perhaps the reason Dean Tistadt was not available at work was because he had decided this was a good day to sleep in…just wondering. I did note his first name was not given in the article. Withholding first names and forcing people to address another by title and last name is a practice of insularity used to make an elevated gap between the notable personage and the common rabble. You can draw a picture of the separation between the Jewish Paradise and the sufferers of torment in hell, if familiar with the Gospels. Public people who want to seem personable use their first name prominently. An example of this would be Tom Murphy who was Speaker of the House in the State of Georgia for twenty-eight years, a national record. Known as Mr. Tom in his district, I can testify even though we were on opposite sides of the political fence, there never was a time I was unable to contact him or not leave him a message and have him speedily respond. Much of the time he answered his office phone personally. Somehow I just cannot picture the Dean being busier or more important than Tom Murphy.
When Dave Kori could not get in touch with Dean Tistadt, at work he did exactly what I would do if I wanted to get in touch with a public servant. He called his home. No one answered, so he left his question as well as his name and number on the answering machine. Later in the day the message was answered by Tistadt’s wife. The message was not for her and had nothing to do with her in any official capacity, but she thought that she had a right to answer questions submitted to her husband evidently. And, perhaps her response is an indicator of the view of the students of Fairfax County held by the Tistadt household. I have listened to her response now posted on YouTube several times and the words “shrewish tone” came to mind.
The newspaper article records her saying “How dare you call us at home? If you have a problem with going to school, you do not call somebody’s house and complain about it.” She had much more to say like “snotty nosed little brats” and “Get over it kid and go to school!” She also claimed her husband had been up at 4 A.M. and went to work at 6:30, but she sounded like the person suffering from sleep deprivation in the recording Dave Kori made of her response and posted on the Internet. You can listen to her tirade by going to YouTube and typing in Candy Tistadt on the site search engine.
Since I was once a Christian School Administrator, I do not find the time of the Dean’s rising, especially on a snow day, all that significant. It is only about half an hour earlier than was my usual time to get up and be available for possible early morning calls with situations that might need handling. I can applaud the Dean for wanting to make a well thought out decision but that does not make him impervious from explaining his decision to others. I can tell you that when I called off school due to weather, some people would question that decision as well. People affected by leaders’ decisions have a right to question the basis on which they were made.
Elitism is alive and well in Fairfax County. A person named Paul Regnier, identified as the schools “spokesman” was quoted as saying “It’s really an issue of kids learning what is acceptable. Any call to a public servant at home is harassment.” The problem here is the spokesman, or at least the people he is speaking for has a distorted idea of what constitutes harassment. If the man is a public servant then he is accountable to serve the public and give an accounting for his actions. (I am not criticizing the decision the Dean made, just the actions that followed.) Actually, the Chief Operating Officer is a hired bureaucrat, not an elected official. You study bureaucrats very long and you will find they are the worst kind of elitists, and often costly to get rid of.
Soon Devraj “Dave” Kori will graduate and be old enough to vote as well. I think he has a good grasp on rights afforded under the Amendments to the Constitution and Judicial decision regarding those rights. I also think he operated in good faith and without any malice…well maybe he felt a little malice when he posted Candy Tistadt’s tirade on YouTube. I hope he and his friends will remember what happened and clean house a little bit. But when you get enough power to fire them Dave, remember you will have to explain it to them slowly and thoroughly. Elitists usually don’t get it, they only choose to feel put upon by those lesser people who should blindly bow before their superiority.
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