We failed our kids on Tuesday, March 11, when we didn’t pass the third consecutive school bond.
We know the problems, so I won’t rehash the overcrowding, the continuing rapid student population growth, the inadequate infrastructure, the abysmal state funding levels, or the declining quality of the education our children will receive as resources are stretched further.
We’ve also spent plenty of time doing the divisive finger pointing blame game and arguing why someone else should pay, so I won’t call out the usual suspects (the developers, Olympia, the school board, local governments, those whose kids are grown, etc.).
The fact is, we and no one else are responsible for our community’s kids, and we are the ones who must find the solutions. The developer deals were inked years ago by Valley governments who I’m sure tried to do the best they could, but that horse is long out of the barn. And the state isn’t going to bail us out either. Just us, baby.
So it doesn’t matter who should have fixed the school problems; it’s us who must fix them now. If you want to know who’s responsible, look in the mirror. There is no one else.
Remember, the kids we shortchanged yesterday are our future community leaders, business people, neighbors and taxpayers in a competitive global economy. After family influence, education is the best prevention of future poverty, criminal activity, drug use, gang involvement, incarceration, welfare status, teen pregnancy and many other social challenges.
Kindergarten through 12th grade is an opportunity to provide our kids with skills and resources to build successful and meaningful lives. They age quickly and it’s much harder and much more expensive to pick up the pieces later, for them and us.
And when we retire, we’ll be counting on them to keep the place up, fund the police and fire departments, pick up the trash, and pay for our social security, Medicaid and Medicare.
As today’s kids move on to adulthood and shoulder the burdens of running this community and caring for us, I’m sure they’ll wrestle with controversial issues, and struggle to find needed resources. I hope they spend more energy on building the best possible quality of life here in the Valley, rather than looking for someone to blame for the shortcomings and rationalizing why it’s someone else’s problem.
In short, I hope the next generation rises above their differences, comes together and does a better job of supporting this community than we are doing. And I hope they don’t hold our failures against us.