It is the responsibility of adults and students alike to accept the vote and not carry grudges about who voted no. The badmouthing needs to be over. This community ought to be full of mentors at this time. Do not preach doom and gloom to the younger students and to your neighbors. We all need to pull together and let each other know that life will go on in the community and in the schools . It may not be as we wanted it to be. The students will still be educated and involved within the the school and its activities.
I have gone through this kind of thing a couple of times. I was a teacher for 35 years in a large southern Minnesota community. I remember one large operating levy that failed, and we were facing cuts such as Brainerd is now. We were devastated and then we got to work and supported each other. We went through the process with educators and the community and survived the cuts. We all thought that we could not work any harder than we had been working, but parents and staff did work harder. We stayed positive with the students and let them know that everything would be OK.
We had to cut all junior high activities and some high school activities. We worked with the park and recreation and they assumed the same activities that we had going with some limitations on travel and length of season; all activities continued, and everyone felt pretty good about it after all. We made something that seemed to be impossible work out . The class sizes went from the mid and high twenties to low and mid thirties. The community did not like it but adapted and made it work.
Pull together and work harder!
'Creating' a mortgage crisis
A report by the Federal Reserve with the results in the Brainerd Dispatch on March 9 said the net worth of U.S. households climbed to a record high in the fourth quarter of 2006. A July 5 report on CNBC said that 102 million Americans now own stock or stock mutual funds. That indicates Americans have confidence in our future. The federal deficit is the lowest in five years. Finally, on Nov. 3, CNBC reported that 138 million Americans have jobs - an all time high.
At the same time, the left-leaning media is trying to undermine public confidence by "creating" a mortgage crisis. According to a recent "Journal Editorial Report" TV show, only one in every 693 mortgages nationwide is in foreclosure, and 96 percent of mortgage payments are paid on time. Locally (Brainerd, Crosslake, Breezy Point), three Realtors I know personally told me their business is doing just fine and there's plenty of mortgage money available.
On the other hand, Democratic House Speaker Pelosi has promised a windfall profits tax to penalize successful companies. How much damage will Democratic leadership do the growing U.S. economy before voters come to their senses?
Gingrich and the environment
As I was driving the other day I listened to former Congressman Newt Gingrich say that he was green before Al Gore was and that he was at least as green. The difference was that he was a conservative green. I didn't read his new book or listen to the whole interview I arrived at my destination and proceeded to other things. I read an editorial about the interview later and I didn't recognize it as being the same interview so I must have missed a lot. The thing which the other listener heard was that the gist of Mr. Gingrich's book and interview was that we should offer prizes to spur innovation to develop hydrogen power. Seeing as they have hydrogen-powered tractor at the state fair, this was developed in 1958 and has been refined a good deal since.
The gist I got out of the interview was that he and other conservatives don't like to be told that they have to do what is right they want incentives not consequences. That strikes me as bribes and the worse you are the bigger the bribe, so if you want more incentive you pollute more and don't start to change until you have exhausted all avenues to avoid change so you may get a bribe, the worse citizen you are the more you get at the expense of the good citizens that you are competing in the market with. The prizes for innovation I can accept. In fact, I would hazard a guess that there are philanthropists out there that would put up the money. However bribes are wrong no matter what you call them.
Don't call me a child-hater
I was absolutely appalled when I read the Vox Pop messages in the Nov. 11 paper. Is this the message we want to pass on to the students when they lose?
I voted against the referendum because people are losing their jobs, their homes and because of the economy. I did not vote against it for the extra money in my pockets. I do not appreciate being called stupid, ignorant, a child-hater, selfish, etc.
Do you honestly believe it is more important for students to have sports, every extracurricular activity you can think of, in place of a roof over their head or food on the table?
If the economy is great enough to support a $5 million referendum why do we have churches, Habitat for Humanity, and other organizations helping families in need? Why do we have homeless families in Brainerd? If Brainerd turns into a hick town, it will be because everyone gave up.
I was called old, that I am. But I lived in the best of times. People were more respectful and kind to each other. Believe me, your children and their grandchildren will have a lot more chance of a quality education and opportunities than we did, in school and out of school. Be thankful.
My mother's favorite saying was, "If you can't say anything nice about people, don't say anything at all."
At the end of the Vox Pop column, the Dispatch mentions "fairness and good taste." Fairness, maybe. Good taste, absolutely not.
Ignorance is also expensive
I am heartbroken over what has happened in Brainerd. Did anyone realize that the affects of the "no" votes would happen immediately? Teachers (many of my good friends) have already been told that as of May 2008 they will be unemployed. Children will have to switch schools because of where they live. Extracurricular activities are history. People complain about the amount of renters vs. home owners in Brainerd and about businesses leaving for other areas. Do you think that is going to change for the better now? Families and professionals choose their place of residence based on school districts and jobs. Brainerd voters have decided to continue to eliminate these options. What about the teachers and families directly affected by the monstrous cuts? Will they have to leave their family, friends and the beautiful Brainerd lakes area behind to find teaching jobs and good schools elsewhere? How can you not support superior education for less than $30 a month? How many of you spend that much a week on cigarettes, caramel coolers or going out to eat? Meanwhile people's lives are crumbling. Rest assured that those of you who were not willing to pay the couple extra dollars for superior education will end up having to pay it in some other form such as unemployment rates or welfare costs. It would be interesting to find out how many of you who voted no are also anti-abortion. You'll rally for the rights of the unborn but where are you when they are actual children who need support? If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
Education answers aren't simple
Mr. Begin, you were not elected to any public office. Your job is over. We have a school board that the public elected to do the difficult job of dismantling programs it took years to build, shutting down schools that were important to neighborhoods and cutting bright and capable staff that would have enriched the lives of children.
My greatest hope is that the public will understand in full measure the devastation to our schools and community you so jubilantly celebrated.
If you thought for one minute that the answers were simple and that a "no" vote would not have a negative impact on the community you claimed to represent than I guess spelling should continue to be the least of your concerns.
Property taxes are regressive
Lacking only steed, shining armor, and sword, Marv Begin entered the temple of Independent School District 181, ready with his plan to slay those insolvency dragons lurking in dark corners. Hopes rose everywhere, as many school boards need such a plan to deal with rising deficits.
But the hopes faded fast as the Begin Plan unveiled included just the standard approach of canceling firm contracts to lower teacher salaries and retirement benefits.
Cities and states across the nation do face very large unfunded pension and medical benefits for all employees, including educators, fire and police personnel, etc.
At this time, there are no painless answers on the horizon. For ISD 181, we need to look to state capitol remedies as outlined by Rep. John Ward (Schools are community cornerstones) Dispatch, 11/14). Those remedies should include lessening the burden of regressive property taxes and raising it a bit on the million dollar salaries of professional athletes and hedge fund managers.
Rolf E. Westgard
Crow Wing County DFL
Our priorities are despicable
It is reprehensible that we, by our vote, give President Bush and his cadre of Ivy League chicken hawks the permission to waste billions of dollars in Iraq as we, again by our vote, deny our own children a first class education and health care.
We have despicable priorities as a community, as a state and as a nation.
Congratulations to those right wing zealots as they continue to destroy our public schools, our economy (many voters said they voted "no" because they had no money), our communities, our reputation in the world and the unity we once had as a nation.
When I, as a trumpet player who played taps during the Vietnam conflict, as a Christian who sang in the church choir, as a band director who programmed hundreds of patriotic and religious songs over the years, as a Democrat who likes wearing patriotic attire am made to feel like a traitor if I oppose our president's stupendous policies, a heathen if I didn't vote for Pres. Bush, a "secular progressive pinhead" if I still believe in our public schools and unpatriotic if I favor spending money on domestic needs vs. the "money pit" that is Iraq then something is terribly wrong.
We must understand that throwing more money (billions) at religious extremists in Iraq and/or Iran is fruitless. Investing in our own children and our needs (how about New Orleans?), within a secular government structure, will allow us, as in the past, to go to school together, work together and play together as we worship, yes, separately.
This system has worked for 200 plus years. Let's not become, tomorrow, what we are trying to eradicate in the Middle East today.
I know this is hard to believe - I support our soldiers and our kids.
No pouting or gloating
It's not the time to pout and it is not the time to gloat. It is the time to face the need to live within a reasonable budget. It is suggested that the school board form a committee of working people making minimum wage, or a little over, and retirees who depend on Social Security and not much else. These are the people that understand the concept of fiscal restraint because they live with it every day. Set before them the "needs" of the school and not just the "wants," Then, have the good sense to listen to their ideas.
These are the people that defeated the bond issue, not because they wanted to, but because they had to do it. When you come back with a reasonable request and show that you are fairly treating your maintenance workers, teaching assistants, and others that really deserve a raise, you will have a better chance to pass a bond issue.
The puzzling part is that this should have been self-evident considering the level of intelligence and education of the school boards and administrators.
Teachers should join the rest of us
Now that the school referendum has failed let's get down to the brass tacks of the situation. Quality education can still be had in this school district if they No. 1: Get rid of health insurance for school board members. I have never had insurance unless I worked a full-time job. No. 2: Get rid of Yukons. We had bus service and I, for one, am tired of seeing these vehicles driving around town with one person in them. Is riding in a coach bus to the game quality education? I don't think so. Times are tough. If the rest of us have to tighten our belts, why can't the school? This doesn't mean things have to be cut, but it might mean the teacher's don't get a raise every year. Join the rest of us who don't.
Sharon K. Carlson
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