Google is great in defeating the vagaries of human recollection. Take for example the quote, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” The question to myself is, “Is this an ancient quote, or a relatively modern idea?” Given that it’s only recent that widespread dissemination of knowledge is viewed as a good thing, my guess was that the quote is from the modern era.

And why is this important in Ashland today? It’s a hundred million dollars important in Southern Oregon. That’s about how much is spent on educational organizations in our area, including the Ashland schools, the Southern Oregon Education Services District, Talent-Phoenix schools and Rogue Valley Community College. We, as a community, value the dissemination of knowledge to our entire population to the greatest extent possible. It’s legitimate for you to pat yourself on the back for supporting this.

I’m communicating with you because it’s important how this $100 million of local, primarily Jackson County citizens’ resources are utilized. A favorite phrase of mine is, “it’s easy to spend money, but extraordinarily difficult to spend money well.” And the citizen leaders serving on the boards and advisory panels of our educational organizations are responsible for this task.

As we are voting on local citizen leadership for school boards, library systems, transportation districts and college advisory councils, please take the time to look at the different ideas presented for your votes. These ideas are brought to you in the persons running for these elected positions. And my main point is: Many, if not most, of the positions have only one candidate for the office, and this can easily lead to a paucity of ideas. Because there are only a limited number of citizens stepping forward to give time and expertise to these leadership roles, we as citizens of Ashland and Jackson County are in a position where “a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.”

As we move forward in the election calendar, please consider running for a local office in future years. I’ve submitted my name in this election cycle as a candidate for the Education Service District and would appreciate your vote. But please remember, an important part of the process is for you to vote. As well as voting, please consider running for a local office, or volunteering for any of a number of important commission positions.

As you consider your votes and think seriously about freely giving of your time and expertise for the betterment of our community, please consider Alexander Pope’s full quote from 1709: “A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.”

Knowledge and diverging ideas make a community stronger. Thank you for your tax contributions to the school systems in our communities. We are better because of them.

— James Jarrard lives in Ashland.