Saturday, 1 May 2010

Organising a mock election (AKA – Why I’m a bumbling wreck)

I feel like I now have a rather good idea of what it's like to be a teacher - a lot of work in the background that no-one notices or appreciates. It's been a busy time - I've been roaming the school hunting teachers to ask for venues; speaking to the headteacher and other staff, sorting candidates and ballot papers; typing a proposal for the project; attempting to keep the candidates from getting ahead of themselves; and trying to do all the usual stuff the rest are doing - like preparing policy and points for the debate. Oh, and I've also got school-work. And to top it all, I'm now informed that I've got my own scandal to deal with, which I like to call Postergate. I need a public relations person. Please.

I've been attacking teachers for a while now about doing a mock election, but when it became clear that everyone thought everyone else was doing it, and no-one wanted to step on anyone else's toes, I grabbed the bull by the horns, and began the process. A particular problem I've faced is my liberal attitude to this process - we've got a whopping eight candidates. Anyone was welcome to stand, and I've not prevented any candidates because I feel it would be undemocratic to do so. However, I envisaged there being a small number of people with general agreement with the policies their respective parties. Having said that, the feelings of some candidates that they may not agree fully with their chosen party, but they deserve to be represented, is admirable.

Yesterday consisted of outlining my proposal to the headteacher to gain permission and ask for the ballots to be photocopied, as well as wandering between music and drama to try to secure one of the venues for a debate on Wednesday. In-between times, I was chastised by the BNP candidate about not yet being able to put up posters - I had told them all to wait until I had asked specific permission; I had forgotten to mention it when outlining my proposal to the headmaster, and I'm inclined to err on the side of caution. Apparently they got bored of waiting though, and began to stick posters up, leading to the first  - and hopefully last - cock-up that I now have to try to sort out. Apparently a senior teacher took exception to the BNP candidate putting up posters, demanded they be taken down, and sent an email to all staff asking them to be on the lookout for people sticking up BNP posters. That's bad publicity I don't need, particularly when seeking willing teachers to count ballots. So, come Tuesday morning, I've got to sort this. In my opinion, it's not democratic to say that one party can't put up posters because a teacher disagrees with them; provided the poster doesn't contain anything racist, homophobic, etc, then I see no reason they can't be displayed. However, I have to balance that with then need for sensitivity in a school environment, and the school's natural desire to avoid any issues arising. I'm not looking forward to putting my neck on the line on Tuesday to defend his right to put up posters; I think it should be either a blanket ban, or all are able to do it. However, if he'd just waited in the first place, I could have asked about it on Tuesday morning and then told them whether or not we'd be doing posters and avoided yet more hassle.

Then there's still the issue of an 8-way debate. That can't go well.

Oh, and I'm an uncle now, by the way. The baby still scares me.

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