As someone with a vested and professional interest in our public school system, I am sometimes faced with questions or comments like this:
“Why do I need to pay taxes to support the schools here?” “I don’t even have a kid in school so I shouldn’t have to pay for schools.” “I pay for my kids to go to private school, so I shouldn’t have to pay taxes for schools.” “I’m not even from here – – why do I have to pay for schools I didn’t even use?” “Why do you all have to put all of that technology in place…why do we need high tech schools?” “Why can’t it just be like it was?” “Why aren’t we teaching the three R’s (reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmatic) like we used to?”
Well…I am a product (my children are, too) of our public school system and have worked diligently in several roles to improve our public education system during my professional career. Also, I have many friends and colleagues in the education profession who are so passionate about our schools and helping our children. As such, I believe I am qualified to share my thoughts with the above questions/comments in mind.
First of all, research has proven time and again that a community is only as strong and viable as its school system. This includes factors such as economic viability, housing demand, available amenities, and so on. Secondly, the most common reply I have to all of the above referenced dialogue is this: Who repairs our cars? Who fixes our air conditioning? Who works in our factories? When the pipes in your home burst, who comes to stop the leak? Who keeps our community and businesses functioning? Who helps you when you go to the doctor or hospital? How about the doctor who makes you better? My doctor graduated from a rural public high school!
I could go on and on about the jobs and skills that are directly affected and augmented by a good public school system. So you see, even if you don’t have someone in school now or you think the taxes to fund our schools are not necessary, please remember that you are still directly impacted by those who do or did attend our schools, and that without quality schools we simply could not and cannot function at a level we expect or demand. Do we need accountability and oversight to see that our tax dollars are spent effectively and appropriately? Absolutely! This is more crucial now than ever. But, providing fiscal support for our schools is even more important now than ever.
How about the technology in schools question? My response is that we live in a society now (whether we like it or not) that is more and more dependent on technology at every job level. I’ll bet one would be hard pressed to find any job that doesn’t require at least some level of technological proficiency. For our students to compete in today’s job market and/or higher education, we have to stay “in the game” and offer our children access to the best amenities we can. Additionally, I have personally witnessed increased teacher efficacy, student interest, instructional time and efficiency because of implemented technology. The basic teaching of reading, writing, and arithmetic hasn’t changed, it is just done a little differently than when I was in school.
Like it or not, children nowadays are living in a world that is way different than even five or ten years ago. I recently watched a program that stated our children are learning today to perform jobs that don’t even exist yet that will use technology that hasn’t even been invented yet. Wow!
I will close with this question to consider – – the next person you encounter who assists you may be a product of our local public school system….don’t you want that person to have gone through the best schools we can possibly offer?
Dr. Charles King
Associate Superintendent, Chester County Schools
Board Trustee, Kershaw County Schools