The first and long sitting president of the AFL-CIO, Samuel Gompers, in the late 1800's once said: "What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures, to make childhood more happy and bright."
These values still hold true today and pretty much sums up why we, as labor organizations, support the Monroe County referendum to support our schools. On October 14, 12 local labor organizations held a press conference to announce their support for the upcoming vote on the school funding referendum. We stand by and need to help our community through the support of our schools, support of our teachers and support of our kids.
MCCSC school referendum a vote for the future
Less education means loss opportunities. We can't afford less education and more failed futures, but we can afford more education for future growth.
Using an analogy in construction, if you hope to successfully construct a skyscraper that is sound, of the highest quality and able to reach high into the sky, you need a strong foundation to support it. And that's what an education does for a child. Education is the foundation for a future that shoots for the stars in the sky and keeps hope and unending opportunities alive.
Voting yes for the referendum on question No. 2 at election time is a vote to ensure we don't lose more. The referendum is not a vote to increase funding that the schools already have, it's a vote to gain what they have lost.
"For approximately $12 a month on the average piece of property, we can promise our students that we won't limit their opportunities in the future, that we care, and we want them to succeed."
There is always talk about creating more job opportunities and increasing our economic base, and about finding new job opportunities and expanding employment. But how can we possibly do that when we continue to shrink the number of teachers, increase class sizes to unmanageable numbers and expect more to be done with less? Creating a skilled, talented and educated workforce starts early in the education system. If students can't secure a proper education through our local schools, where are the knowledgeable and functional workers going to come from? Why would employers want to locate here?
Opponents claim that we can't afford more taxes during these hard economic times. But when have they ever agreed to more funding? If we are in good economic times, they claim there is no need to increase the tax base. Now in an economic downturn, they say we can't afford it.
The cause of this situation was a 2008 state law that changed the source of public school funds from property taxes to income taxes, sales taxes and lottery funds. Our Republican governor created the problem along with his friends in state office. Changing from a stable funding source to an inconsistent funding mechanism has severely impacted school budgets.
Let's correct a wrong by finding a solution locally. For approximately $12 a month on the average piece of property, we can promise our students that we won't limit their opportunities in the future, that we care, and we want them to succeed.
Just think about the cost. How many of us spend $2 for a bottle of water, or spend $12 a month on lottery tickets, or continually spend money on fast food? How many state roads have you paid for but never have driven on? What about fire protection and police protection? You may never need their services, but it sure is nice to know there will be someone to help if needed.
The same holds for our education system. Making our community a better place to live takes all of us. A quality public education is a right and opportunity that has been afforded to all of us. Does it makes sense to take away the same opportunities you once had from our current students?
Let's correct a wrong created by the state by finding a local solution. Please vote yes on ballot question No. 2 in support of our local school referendum. It's the right and responsible thing to do to ensure a brighter future. Pay a little now, and we will all benefit a lot, later.
Tom Szymanski can be reached at email@example.com.