Two recent letters objecting to the school override contain misleading assertions:
1) The average class size is around 17 students: Various classes, like resource/special education and ELL (both federally mandated programs) have smaller numbers of students — sometimes 10 or less each — because of being specialized classes. Essential, core academic classes for English/language arts, math, science and social studies are already much larger; without the override, they’re likely to balloon to higher numbers. Remember the old saw: “There’s lies, there’s damn lies, and there’s statistics.”
2) Having no children in school means not being affected by the fall-out from the override’s failure: Losing well-paying local jobs (teachers, other school employees) if the override fails will trigger more losses in tax revenue to Payson, already suffering a draconian drop in sales tax collections. We’ll see more cutbacks to services like fire and police for all local residents. Also, the school conditions that a loss of the override would cause — ballooning sizes of core academic classes, the probable loss of programs such as Advance Placement courses, arts, library, will diminish the quality of our schools to attract and keep high-level professionals, such as doctors and staff for a four-year college.
Many know I’m a longtime local promoter of Bill of Rights Day (Dec. 15), and someone who cares about preserving our precious American heritage of a constitutional democratic republic. Growing up in Singapore (1954-1960) and Jamaica (1960-1977, during which time Jamaica had around a 75 percent illiteracy rate) made me acutely aware of the importance of educating the next American generation to become productive and discerning citizens, voting intelligently for public servants not because of empty promises, but because of voting records and bona fide statesmanship. Our students need to compete globally for jobs against students from such countries as India and China. Such citizenship requires education, an investment that reaps benefits for everyone, whether they themselves have children in the school or not.
To quote Thomas Jefferson: “I have indeed two great measures at heart, without which no republic can maintain itself in strength: 1. That of general education, to enable every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom. 2. To divide every county into hundreds, of such size that all the children of each will be within reach of a central school in it.” (Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1810. ME 12:393)