Vail Daily column: Responsibility and the public servant
I’ve been to Rowan County, Kentucky. It’s nestled on the edge of Kentucky’s Appalachian foothills and features green, tree-covered hills that some might even call mountainous. Rowan County is also home to a small state college and a picturesque little town called Morehead.
I grew up in a small town in Kentucky, not unlike Rowan County. I did my undergrad work at the University of Kentucky and hiked in the hills not far from there as a student. My first teaching job was in Hazard, another Appalachian town not far from Rowan County.
Rowan County has now been made famous by its jailed County Clerk, Kim Davis, who is (as of this writing) incarcerated for failing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
As a native Kentuckian, I’m embarrassed by Davis’ actions and exhausted by another media story portraying my home state and its people as ignorant, intolerant and bigoted. Certainly, these kinds of people exist (as they do everywhere), but the Kentucky I grew up in was also full of people who were smart, caring and accepting.
Davis’ supporters are trying to create the narrative that she is being jailed for exercising her constitutional rights. But this is not the case. She is being jailed for violating a federal court order and using her positional authority to deny others the ability to exercise their constitutional rights.
Besides both being Kentuckians, Davis and I are also public servants. As such, we have a professional responsibility to provide our constituents with quality services. In Davis’ case, this means expedient and accurate recording of public records and the issuance of licenses, among other duties. For me, it means providing the people of Eagle County with a quality public education system.
Both Davis and I are provided public funds to do our jobs and to operate organizations for the purpose of serving all of the public. Public means everyone — we don’t get to pick and choose whom we serve.
For public educators, this notion of serving everyone takes on an even deeper meaning. It means that we have a moral responsibility to see that everyone gets access to a quality education — no matter their background, socio-economic condition, race, religion or sexual orientation. Public educators call this concept equity — and it means quality and an even shot for everyone.
For every public educator, there are times that we disagree with laws that are passed and edicts that are handed down. In fact, I’ve personally been more than a little critical of many such laws in this very column over the past couple of years.
But even though we may disagree with some of these education related laws and edicts, professional educators keep showing up and doing our jobs. Our sacred responsibility to the community’s children does not allow for personal agendas to stand in the way of our service. No public servant’s personal agenda should.
Jason E. Glass is the superintendent of Eagle County Schools. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.