On Oct. 8 the citizens of Wake County will have an opportunity to make a clear statement about their views on public school education. If they vote in favor of the school bond referendum they will be saying that education is a top priority for their county and that their children deserve safe, state-of-the-art facilities with appropriate technology to help prepare them for college, work, and life. If they vote against the bond issue they will be making it clear that our current system is simply good enough.
The bond referendum is certainly expensive and somewhat ambitious. However, in the past 10 years Wake County has made many improvements in student achievement while becoming the largest school district in North Carolina, and among the twenty largest districts in the country. Our county's leadership and its citizens have been very proud of their growth and many businesses have been attracted to this part of the state primarily because we have demonstrated a commitment to education. We need to understand that the benefits of such demographic and business growth come with a price. Obviously, no one enjoys higher taxes; however, our way of life depends on providing appropriate educational services that can only be supported by an appropriate tax base.
Many of our schools need to be renovated, first to meet safety requirements, and second to make them aesthetically appealing. No one wants to attend a run-down school, and in the 21st Century no should have to. We also need to build new schools to accommodate the anticipated increase in student population. There is no reason why our schools should use trailers any longer. What was good for the parents is not necessarily good for their children. We need to think logically and do what is right.
The bond money will also be used to improve technology within our schools. Today, more than ever before, technology is the cornerstone of a good education. Our students will simply not be competitive with the outside world if they don't learn the most effective uses of technology. In essence, this is no longer negotiable.
The upcoming vote is a referendum on us - the citizens of Wake County. We can move forward and continue to look to the future or we can remain stagnant and fall behind the rest of the nation. Either way, the decision is ours, and so are the consequences.