There is an old saw that a house is the largest investment in a person’s life. A car is second. I would like to change this thought and add the community’s education. See, the property taxes a person pays, especially in New York, and the income tax a person pays that assists a local school budget is a bigger investment in education than the purchase of a house. We invest in our communities. We support our schools. We need to ensure our schools are supported. More importantly we need to ensure as a community we support our students. This week, our students in New York State are taking Regents exams. The students have invested their time, talent, sweat equity into the year. On the flip side, our teachers gave even more. Our teachers gave their time, talent, effort and in many instances their treasure to ensure our students were ready.
We also can’t forget the administration, the support staff, and the volunteers. The administrators are up late, often into the evening or early checking e-mails, writing a parent, or opening the door for a student dropped off way to early. The support staff, the cleaners, bus drivers, TAs and aides who do the work that isn’t tested, but is critical to the students, the teachers, and the BOE. Finally, the volunteers, who come into the school as a Board of Ed member, or a tutor, or someone who makes sure the musical is ready to go.
But we also need to remember our community librarians, museums, and other professionals and service folks who help out our students on the way into school. AS communities, we need to do a better job supporting each other. One of my colleagues wrote an amazing PhD dissertation on K-16 cradle to career networks. It is a must read dissertation on efforts to work between community and schools.
In rural areas especially, the connection between school and communities are so close. A great work by a professor at Bates College examines the connection between schools and communities. Why rural schools matter is a great read.
We need to invest in education, because in many instances, it is the only investment in many rural communities. In order to ensure strength in rural communities, it is essential that states prioritize rural education and fund it in such a way that all students can succeed, if that means going to college, getting a job, learning a trade, or buying a house in a community to invest in education.