More than 150 years ago Horace Mann, arguably America's most effective educational reformer, whose thinking about our nation's school system was well ahead of its time, argued that students will learn more effectively if they attend both safe and visually appealing schools. Since then, research has clearly shown that children are keenly aware of their school surroundings. Achievement levels improve when students are offered a school that is clean (both inside and out), brightly painted, and includes a playground, gym, and well lighted classrooms.
On October 8, the citizens of Wake County - especially those who take their civic responsibilities seriously by voting - will have to make a choice. Option #1 is the status quo. In other words, we keep things as they are and assume that nothing will change, including the condition of our schools or the number of new students that move to Wake County. Option #2 assumes that we take education seriously, accept the fact that many of our schools need repairs, and agree that Wake County will continue to grow and need additional schools. The "easy" choice is option #1 because nothing will change. The more difficult and appropriate choice is to look out for the future of our children by letting them know that we value them and want them to attend school in the best possible facilities.
There is a great deal of discussion about this issue - especially among those candidates who are vying for a seat on the Wake County Board of Education. What is most appalling and unprofessional is when candidates make this into a political issue. Some, for instance are saying that the $810 million bond should be voted down because the school board members cannot be trusted with spending the money wisely. Keep in mind, they are speaking about people that the majority of Wake County citizens voted into office.
The bottom line is simple - this is not a political issue. This referendum is one that speaks volumes about our commitment and dedication to educating our children. Again, students can tell how much we value their education by the kinds of schools in their neighborhoods. If we decide not to renovate older schools, or build new ones to accommodate growth, our children will understand that we simply do not place a high value on education. This is not the message we need to be sending them.