Before I admonish all of you who vote down school bond issues, I must admit I am a former teacher who retired in 2009. In fact, I am a third generation educator. My mother was an outstanding elementary school teacher who loved and cared about all her students; it was part of her professional and religious nature that was taught to her by her mother and father Ada Viola and Daniel F. K. Bertolette. My grandfather, Professor Bertolette, was a master educator of mathematics who graduated from Bucknell University in 1914 and was the author of the book entitled Motives in Education (1916).
With that being said, you know where my priorities can be found and that's with the students. It was ingrained in me by my family values. So, let's review your excuses for voting down school bond issues.
All My Kids have Graduated
How selfish. While your children were going to school, there were others in your district that didn't have children in the school system still voting for school bond issues. They knew the importance of the students getting the best education from the most highly-trained teachers. They cared about a quality education for all students in their area, not just their own. Shouldn't you have done the same? I say, "Shame on you!"
I Don't Like a Certain Teacher or School Administrator
Neither did I as a student and parent. I'm sure there were parents who didn't like me as a teacher, dean of students or coach. In fact, it was during the mid 1990s that I actually received a "death threat" by phone in my capacity as dean of students at the school, which involved dealing with all the student discipline problems that occurred on a daily basis.
To be totally honest, I was from the old school, an educator who didn't put up with a student's poor behavior in the classroom or on the field of play. Of course, there are principals and teachers you didn't like, so you decided to take it out on the kids by voting down a school bond issue. And they say kids are immature. I say, "Shame on you!"
I Don't Like Teacher Strikes
Well, you're not going to believe it, but neither do I. I knew that when I decided to become a teacher I was not going to make a lot of money. But what I also knew, the field of education was a secure profession with a guaranteed health care plan and retirement benefits. And fortunately for me, I taught in West Virginia, where teacher strikes are outlawed.
In 1990, there was a week-long, wildcat teachers' strike in West Virginia. About a month before the strike, when it was being contemplated, I told my teaching colleagues that if there was a strike, I was not going to walk out. As professionals, they respected my strong convictions regarding teacher strikes.
Ironically, many of my fellow educators, who did strike during that week, later informed me they wished they hadn't done so.
But again, teacher strikes should not be a reason for punishing the kids by vetoing a school bond issue. You should want all students to receive the best education in your area so they can have the opportunity to succeed in life. If you used teacher strikes as an excuse to vote down school bond issues, I say, "Shame on you!"
Tired of Taxes
So am I, but not when it comes to voting down something that will be of benefit to our students, offering them an even more advanced education. You must use common sense (and consider the fate of the students) when it comes to voting for school bond issues. If you don't believe you should have to pay extra tax money to further promote student progress in your area, I say, Shame on you!"
You Get What You are Willing to Pay
The simple truth is that schools which are wholeheartedly supported by their communities produce far superior students than districts that continually vote down school bond issues. State competency test scores are significantly higher as well as student-performance on college entrance exams such as the American College Tests (ACTs) and Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SATs).
The curriculums at locally-supported school systems are much more robust, offering far more comprehensive academic and vocational programs from which their students can choose. Furthermore, they have state-of-the-art technology labs which prepare the students for careers in that ever-changing and constantly-evolving field.
I had the privilege to teach in such a superior school system in which its citizens set a high priority on educating their children. It's a K-12 educational institution that consists of many award-winning teachers and schools, but more importantly, it produces students who are highly-motivated to learn.
In sum, if you are truly concerned about America's future, you must understand that a positive tomorrow for our society begins with outstanding local school systems today. Now, please, the next time you are asked to vote on a school bond issue in your district, forget petty complaints and select the "yes" lever. In doing so, you will be assuring a bright future for your most important asset the youth of the community!
(Editor's Note: Dr. Bill Welker is a retired reading specialist who was a K-12 classroom teacher for 40 years. He was selected as a "Teacher of the Year" by the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Welker is also a nationally recognized authority on amateur wrestling who has written 100s of articles and two best-selling books on the subject. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.)