Vail Daily letter: Kids deserve more |

Vail Daily letter: Kids deserve more

Fred Smith
Vail, CO, Colorado

The article on school enrollment in the Vail Daily of Sept. 17 was a good overview of a serious community dilemma. As a parent, teacher and administrator in public and private schools for 43 years, I feel compelled to share my thoughts on your upcoming ballot measure.

Should property taxes be increased or will the children in school be forced to deal with less? Property owners have little control over tax increases except through voting for elected officials, boycotting goods and services, and using their freedom of speech.

A school tax levy is one of very few areas over which property owners and citizens have direct and immediate control.

Having this right requires citizenry to exercise an even more profound responsibility for the quality of education they make available to their children. That is why it is difficult to understand how or why a responsible citizen would vote “no” on a school tax levy without knowing the impact their vote has on the children in school.

Gathering the facts to make an informed decision is one way to become knowledgeable. A better way to get first-hand knowledge is to get into the school and observe what challenges the children face daily. I personally have met very few individuals who exercise this path.

I bristle when I hear individuals say that schools already have enough or comment that it was good enough for them when they went to school. Such myopic statements convince me more that these individuals have little understanding of the challenges that children face as students.

It’s not merely a matter of reading, writing and arithmetic anymore. Each day school children face overcrowded conditions, including the growing numbers of children with special needs, language barriers, changing family structure and values, and different religious belief systems.

Stretched thin by these challenges, the children have to contend more for the attention of their teachers.

I visit my granddaughter’s school and classroom every time I come to Colorado. Her class size has grown 50 percent since last year as the result of state funding decreases and so, too, have the challenges for her, her classmates and her teacher. It leaves no doubt in my mind that children are not getting their fair share — and things will get much worse if this community does not have the wherewithal to pass 3B.

When I hear someone say that he cannot afford higher taxes, I believe him. I also believe that he must find a way. I will challenge anyone who thinks that the nearly 6,000 children in this local school district are not worth a few extra cents per day. Saying “no” without first knowing the impact of this vote on children is irresponsible. It goes against the very tenets of our Constitution, namely, the safety and welfare (e.g. education) of the entire community of citizens.

Our children deserve more, not less, than we are providing them. Unfortunately, they cannot vote for themselves.

Fred Smith

Penn Yan, N.Y.

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