Self-Interest Minus Enlightenment Is Self-Indulgence

Article excerpt

Sanford Morganstein of West Dundee is a member of the Facilities Advisory Committee for Education and SchoolsNow.

"What's in it for me?" can be a voter's reaction when faced with issues that may affect his or her pocketbook.

The reaction is natural and has earned its own abbreviation: WIIFM.

It sounds kind of cynical that way.

On the other hand, one of the pillars of democracy is that society moves forward when voters are given the chance to move society in the direction of their enlightened self-interest.

"Enlightened" is the key word.

Enlightened self-interest is what was so important about the public engagement process that Community Unit School District 300 used over the last year.

Engaging the public to prioritize what needs to be fixed at existing schools and deciding how to solve the school overcrowding problem resulted in the Facilities Advisory Committee for Education.

That committee consisted of more than 100 community members, educators, architects and other professionals.

They visited every school, considered the facts about school finance laws and they came up with a common-sense plan to begin to solve our educational problems.

Common sense, because it tried hard to ensure all community members would benefit.

Common sense, because the community members felt it was affordable.

Common sense, because it respected the American principle, "No taxation without representation" - the community was not only represented, but invited to participate.

Those who have heard John F. Kennedy's comment about Thomas Jefferson are struck by it. After his inauguration upon winning the 1960 presidential election, Kennedy assembled in the White House the "best and the brightest" intellectuals to help him lead the country into the New Frontier.

In a congratulatory and humbling comment, Kennedy said, "This is the most impressive collection of brain power assembled in this room since Thomas Jefferson dined here alone. …