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But They're Not My Kids

My grandfather came to this country when he was a boy.  He believed that FDR was a god, and in his later years he said that when he got off the boat, he literally expected the streets to be lined with gold.  He was taken in by relatives in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, went into the mills at 13 and emerged an old man 50 years later.  He didn’t complain because he was convinced it was a better life than he would have had in the Old Country. 

He had very little education, but he expected that his children would do better than he did because they had a chance to go to school.  And they did do better.  My grandfather’s generation believed that education was the way up, and they were willing to pay for it. 

 This idea that each generation would do better than the last because of education was a given in the house where I grew up.  I believed it then, and I believe it now despite the vagaries of economics.

 So as a superintendent, it was something akin to horror that I felt the first time I heard people say when I presented the school budget, “I don’t have any kids in school.  Why should I pay school taxes?”

 There are so many answers to that question.  Who paid for your kids?  Would you rather pay for school or for welfare?  Or for prisons?  Do you not understand that free public education is the cornerstone of this country?

 Democracy depends for its existence on an educated population. Mark Twain said, “Out of the public school grows the greatness of a nation.”  Yes, you have to pay school taxes because you reap the benefits of those taxes whether you have kids in school or not.  Those kids, those responsibilities, belong to all of us.

 So I said, “It’s the law.”

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