My First Ever Local Political Endorsement

 

The short version: I recommend that you vote for Richard Vaughan for Clark County School District Trustee, District A.

The long version: we step into my time machine and go back to 1991. I’m a 2nd grader at Gibson Elementary. For PE that year I have two coaches, a man and a woman. The man is a portly fellow with a warm smile on his face, like a desert-dwelling Santa Claus. Throughout the year he’s positive and encouraging, even when scrawny little 7 year-old me can’t do a single pull-up. One of the activities in the spring was to learn how to jump rope a bunch of different ways. At one part, the coaches wanted us to jump backward. I couldn’t figure out how, until Coach Vaughan pulled a few of us aside and taught us the trick: you had to jump when you heard the rope click against the asphalt behind you.

It was a simple thing, but the fact that he took the time and effort to teach me (and one other kid) something so inconsequential left an impression. I knew that he wanted us to learn.

Back in the time machine. Fast forward ten years, and we disembark in 2001 at Foothill High School. I walk into my senior year government class, and there’s something familiar about the even more Santa-esque man at the front of the room, especially now that his hair is whiter and he probably hasn’t jumped rope in a while.

“Hey! You’re Coach Vaughan! You taught me how to jump rope backward!”

He got a kick out of the fact that I remembered, and he indeed remembered me. (Good or bad, I do tend to leave an impression on people).

Although Government Honors was not 2nd grade PE, Mr. Vaughan’s zeal for teaching was the same. But it’s not just his zeal that qualifies him for the office he now seeks. A number of anecdotes should illustrate this:

Our education system sucks. It’s expensive and inefficient. The good teachers don’t last long and the bad ones don’t seem to go away. It is in this environment that the excellent ones stand out. Mr Vaughan told us on Day One that he was a Democrat, but that his wife often said he’s the most conservative Democrat she knows. I, a lifelong Republican from a conservative family, wondered what that might mean for the direction of the class. Was I on track for nine months of bias and indoctrination?

I soon learned that I had no reason to worry. Mr Vaughan wasn’t declaring his bias by declaring his party. On the contrary, he was fair all throughout the year when it came to explaining the flaws and virtues of both major parties and their ideologies. He started the year by giving us a multiple-choice test on a number of then-important national issues, the results of which would broadly classify us as Republican, Democrat, or Independent (just to give each student a barometer on where they stood.)
On the open house night, he made his case to our parents, saying that his goal for the class was to have every student develop their values by year’s end–and if they already had values, then to develop underlying reasons for them. I think his lack of bias was never clearer than when he introduced the class to a number of prominent media figures, one of whom was Rush Limbaugh. He played a few clips and segments from Limbaugh’s defunct television program, demonstrating Limbaugh’s ideologies and his unique method of delivery to an audience. When the clip ended, Mr. Vaughan simply told us that Limbaugh had a lot of sway as a non-conventional media source…and that we should make up our own minds about him.

That’s not the kind of objectivity we often hear of from teachers lately. Mr. Vaughan understood the influence that he held as a teacher, and the responsibilities that came with it. He encouraged us, all of us, to come to our own conclusions. (At the time I was a big fan of Limbaugh, though this is not the case anymore. I can tell you this much: were I in Mr. Vaughan’s place, I know I wouldn’t have dealt so fairly with some of my ideological opposites.)

Mr Vaughan’s principles and objectivity were on full display throughout the rest of that year. He took time to explain the purpose of government, starting all the way back at Hammurabi and Mesopotamia, then going on to Persia, the Greeks, the Romans, the British, and finally, our present-day system. He helped us understand the important context of our democracy and our Republic. By year’s end, he even had us group up and form our own fictional countries, developing a legal system and analyzing the outcome of it.

Richard Vaughan understands why we need government, and how a great school system is key to preserving it. He knows that it ought to be prudent, frugal, and functional. I know he has a love for education. He spent over two decades in the trenches of it, working with hundreds of students, feeding their minds and preparing them for the world. I am one of them. Without casting any aspersions on the other candidates for this office, I can tell you this: he is the right person for the job, and if we want to get on the right path to improving Nevada’s education system (we’re 50th, people!) we need to start with Richard Vaughan.

Voting Day is June 14, 2016. Look up your polling place and vote for Richard Vaughan for School District Trustee!