Our Opinion: Course correction
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Don’t discount common sense.
Demographic information provided in January and again last week by an out-of-town consultant didn’t jibe with the intuition and instincts of local officials.
As it turns out, our local officials are correct.
Demographer Preston Smith of Business Information Systems, Blue Springs, most recently outlined his findings to officials representing the Jefferson City School District, Jefferson City and Cole County.
Among those findings, Smith reported Helias High School’s student body included 400 Protestants, 105 Catholics and 63 designated unknown.
Local officials, including Cole County Presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger, challenged those findings.
Smith now has corrected his data, which shows Helias educates 712 Catholic students and 84 “other Christians.”
In an e-mail to the News Tribune, Smith wrote: “I have a journalism degree from Mizzou and spent five years covering the White House and Capitol Hill, so I understand how obvious it is, as was pointed out during the meeting, to just call the schools and ask them what their data showed for the religious breakdown. But it is easier said than done.”
We’re not demographers, but we fail to see what is so difficult about contacting a knowledgeable source to acquire accurate data.
The adage — “to err is human” — applies to all people, regardless of profession.
It also applies to local officials, but we credit them for questioning findings that appear incorrect.
People in public service gather experience, gain knowledge and hone a keen sense of community.
We encourage them to scrutinize presentations and challenge data that seems incomplete or incorrect.
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