05 February 2007

Politics and Education

Eric Clark has announced that he is not going to run again for Secretary of State in Mississippi. He used to represent the district adjacent to the one I lived in when I was younger. Clark and I also have graduate degrees in history from Mississippi State University and were mentored by the same professor.

The district where I resided when I was younger was represented by current House Appropriations Chair Johnny Stringer. Heidelberg was removed from his district when redistricting occurred in the 1990s.

My father knew both Clark and Stringer. He introduced me to Clark at the state Democratic Party convention in 1992. My father, at the time, was a county supervisor representing Jasper County. He'd always been interested in politics and the political process. He knew though that there was no way he was going to be a delegate to the national convention especially since he was a white male who voted for Jerry Brown.1

As far as Stringer is concerned, my father ran against him for state representive in 1983. My father lost by about 80 votes in the runoff election. I don't believe Stringer has had a serious challenger ever since. My father was elected to be a county supervisor in 1991. Stringer represented a large portion-- if not all of Jasper County-- at that time, so obviously my father worked with him some on issues pertaining to the county. I've also had the occasion to see Stringer at a couple of functions and talk to him over the past few years, but not recently.

I also read this article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Unlike instructors, being a librarian very much involves customer service. My family used to own a grocery store, so customer service is always emphasized. One issue I have with the article is that the writer makes the following statement:

For one thing, when students hear it, their first association is with that famous if not necessarily correct adage, "The customer is always right."

What I don't believe the writer recognizes is that the adage is not necessarily followed by businesses unless there's a reasonable doubt involved. For instance, I would not have gotten all my change back from Pizza Hut unless I had specifically requested that the business count how much money was in the drawer.

Also, like it or not, customer service works in that if demand exists for something-- whether it's more online classes and accelerated classes or a desire to take classes during non-traditional times such as winter break, then colleges need to address this demand. I don't think the writer intended to denigrate this idea, but offering more classes at different times and dates is another facet of customer service.

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1I voted for Paul Tsongas in the Democratic primary and cast my vote for Ross Perot in the general election.

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