I don’t have children of my own. I am not a mother. I haven’t had contractions, been in labor or signed legal papers.
I do, however, spend a lot of my time choosing to volunteer with and mentor to the children in my community of Cleveland, Okla. Those children aren’t mine by birth, but I invest in them because I believe it is part of my repayment to society for what it has done for me. It’s what humans should do for each other, right?
It takes a village, and our village is a collective asset — the people, the places, the things, the triumphs and the problems.
Just like personal homes need repairs for health and safety reasons, so do schools. In a residence, we fix problems as soon as we can so they don’t grow bigger and cause more problems. Our public schools are the most important buildings in town, but instead of one owner, there are a few thousand owners. Those school buildings might not be homes, but they are where the future and the backbone of our town live.
Everyone in our school district, county, state and nation is a stakeholder in public education. Whether you want to be or not, you are a stakeholder in public education because you are alive. Period. It is wise to protect our investments in life, no matter what form they present themselves. Education is a basic need that must be met in order for our society to function, and the way our country is designed, it is up to citizens to facilitate it — either by voting in state legislators to be our voice or by voting for extra county funding when we believe those people fail us. The will of the people and their votes rule both. The power lies within.
You might say I do not have the lifetime responsibility of rearing a child like some do. I disagree. Children may not be my daily responsibility on the same level, the one given to me by God or watched over by the law, but as a member of society, I have an obligation to future generations. I have the honor of teaching them, loving them, shaping them, motivating them and cheering them to success. So do we all.
As a “village,” we should ensure all children have the tools they need to be productive, educated adults. We also have the responsibility to ensure they are safe while in pursuit of those goals. If not, we all lose.
Thankfully, voters passed bonds so I could have safe schools when I was a child. Public money constructed the first school in our town and every school thereafter. It built schools that are in disrepair now, because everything doesn’t last forever. Roofs deteriorate over time. AC units fail over time. For more than a century, Oklahoma taxpayer money has ensured students not only have schoolhouses in our town, but students can attend school without compromising their health and safety. Why would we stop now when so much is at stake?
When I cast a YES vote for the Cleveland school bond issue on Tuesday, I am not doing it for children who carry my family name. Because looking out for your own blood always is an easy choice, right? Everyone wants their own children to have a productive learning environment.
I am voting YES for your children and your family because I care. I care about their health, safety, quality of life and their future.
I’m voting YES because their future is my future. We’re all in this life together.
I’m voting YES because in no civilized society should a student have to worry about rain pouring from the ceiling onto their textbooks or if their teacher has enough trash cans to place around the room and catch the water during a storm. No child should have to worry if mold and mildew are growing around them. No child should have their immune system compromised by old roofs that need repairs. No elementary school child should have to worry if someone is going to walk onto the playground and harm them because there are no fences to keep out the bad guys. No child should have to worry if the school district can afford the utility bills or that their school lunches and their gateway to learning will be shortened a day a week because the money isn’t there to keep the buildings open. No child should have to worry about what legislators are doing or not doing or what has been cut in the state budget. Those are adult worries that all demand adult action. No child should take on any of those things while at school. School should be the escape from everything negative and the introduction of everything good.
Knowledge is power. School is where hope is. School is where dreams are. School is not a place for anything but the beauty of education and the excitement of where it can lead. School is a place for possibility and for wonder.
It should be those things for your child, for your neighbor’s child and for every child, especially the children I watch grow from babies to leaders in the little town I call home.
I choose to spend hundreds of hours of my life mentoring and talking to children about being examples and helpers. I’m not paid for it, and some weeks I spend as much time doing it as I do in my career. The kids and I talk in depth about being good stewards of our corner of the world and that one person can make a difference for many with little sacrifice. So I am going to walk that walk, right down to my polling place and vote YES for Cleveland Schools on Tuesday.
The tax bill on my residence will increase a couple of dollars a month with the bond passage. But to me, the cost of doing nothing is horrifying.
I will vote YES for your children. I will vote YES for Oklahoma’s children. I will vote YES for OUR children.
The minds of kids are like sponges. Let’s free up the time they spend helping to soak up water around their desks. Let’s give them more time to soak up the information which sets the tone for the rest of their lives — and ours.
This video shows dire conditions in a classroom in Cleveland, Oklahoma. My alma mater and pride and joy, CHS, had to decline to this shape before its roof was repaired just months ago. The library, likely the most important room in a school or community, was close to being in ruins because of water damage. This could happen to the middle school if it does not receive funding by the bond vote. Ignoring a problem does not make it go away.
Here’s my classroom!
Posted by Daniel Brimmer on Wednesday, March 25, 2015
- The Cleveland bond proposal can be found by clicking here. See the proposed projects, bond history, tax impact, photos and more.
- If you are an owner or a renter and are concerned about the tax increase passed on to you if the bond passes, look up property tax history online and add 10 percent to the 2015 bill for your address. Click here to search the Pawnee County treasurer’s website by street name. The average property in the district will see about a $5 per month increase. The average rental property in Cleveland will see an even smaller tax increase due to the bond passage, extremely minimal.
- Wherever you stand, VOTE ON TUESDAY JANUARY 12, 2016.
(((Full disclosure so my professional integrity is not questioned: I excused myself from hard news coverage of this bond issue due to conflict of interest after I was appointed to the community bond committee in the fall. I was part of the group — comprised of a cross-section parents past and present, business owners, public servants, ministers, retired educators, senior citizens and large and small property owners — and we took many hours out of our own lives to agonize and argue and research for no pay. And we didn’t stop until we excluded many things from the wish list and we were satisfied with the necessities included on the final draft. I am exercising my rights here on my personal blog without crossing journalistic boundaries, such as if this were to appear on the editorial page in the newspaper or be preceded by music and a “My Two Cents” graphic on a newscast. Our great country even affords those who work in the Fourth Estate the right to an opinion. I usually stay away from publicly advocating for any kind of politics, which is why I didn’t think twice about writing this blog post. The health, safety and quality of education of children is not a political issue to me. It is a humanitarian one.)))