Letters to the Editor

Levy: Levy choice an easy one

Here in Oak Harbor we are facing a school levy that, if it fails, will mean the loss of many of our teacher’s aides, elementary-level PE and art teachers, and our school lunch program. This is really sad that we have to even be faced with this issue; this ought to be a “no-brainer” for the voters of Oak Harbor.

When we have students that are that are dangerously overweight and so many children that require extra help academically we can ill afford to lose our PE teachers and the aides who work with children that are struggling. The loss of specialized art instruction classes for elementary students reminds me of a scene in the motion picture, “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” where the title character is told that his school’s art and music program is being eliminated to pay for the more traditional “three R’s.”  Mr. Holland’s reply is something like “If you eliminate music and art, the kids won’t have anything worth reading and writing about!” Creativity is so essential to all of academics that art is excluded from a school’s curriculum only at great cost to the students and society as a whole.

In a military town like Oak Harbor, I would expect a greater appreciation of the purposes of the founders of our country. The founders understood that for our democracy to survive, its citizens had to have the broadest possible education in order to make informed, intelligent decisions about very complex issues, issues which grow more complex by the decade. The founders thus came to the sound conclusion that it was in the interest of the state that such educations be available to all.

Public schools are also one of the few places where our children are exposed to a rational exposition of viewpoints or perspectives to which their parents do not agree (note that by including the word rational, I have effectively excluded media influence).  While there are some small-minded parents that may be threatened by this, in order for our democracy to continue to exist, we have to have the tools to live with, work with, and “agree to disagree” with those of opposing views. Where else but in that great symbol of the American melting pot, the public school, will they learn to do that?

The opponents of school levies and bonds often float the excuse that “why should people that do not have children in the school system pay for those that do?” The answer to this is obvious for those that have their heads screwed on straight . . . we all derive benefits from our fellow citizens being educated and informed.  For instance, how can a person make an informed decision about stem cell research if they are ignorant about the basis of human heredity? Think what a thoughtful, informed consideration of the facts surrounding this issue may mean for the sufferers of Alzheimer’s, which, I feel safe to say, probably do not have children of their own in the public schools.

The loss of Oak Harbor’s school lunch program, just a few years after getting one started, ought to be a source of great shame to the citizens of Oak Harbor.  How many of Oak Harbor’s voters realize that, according to the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction-Child Nutrition Services Fiscal Year 2004 Participation Report, out of 296 districts state-wide, 278 currently participate in at least the school lunch program, if not the breakfast program? If Oak Harbor votes down the proposed levy, Oak Harbor will be one of 19 districts that do not, with most of the other 18 districts being a great deal smaller and more rural. I can understand remote, rural school districts not having the tax base to support the school lunch program, but what is Oak Harbor’s excuse? This is quite frankly an outrage, one which should, if there were any justice, make Oak Harbor a laughingstock!

Melinda Northrup

Oak Harbor

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