Support schools; support Albert Lea

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 22, 2006

We strongly urge voters of Albert Lea Area Schools to pass the measure on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The ballot measure asks for a $957.87 per pupil operating levy. If passed, it will revoke a $497.87 per pupil operating levy slated to sunset next year.

Let&8217;s do the ABCs:

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A. When you were little, older people whose children had grown up and moved away helped pay for your education. They knew the town, the county, the region, the state, the country and the world &8212; no matter where the students ended up in life &8212; needed a solid education.

In no place in the country is this more apparent than the Midwest. A strong education is part of the fabric of Midwestern life. It is the gift given from one generation to the next.

The argument that people without children shouldn&8217;t pay for schools is like saying only fire victims should pay for fires.

B. Every voter should tag along when Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Director Susie Petersen takes leaders of businesses interested in coming to Albert Lea on tours.

These leaders are making decisions that will affect many employees&8217; lives. Each and every time, one of the first three questions business leaders ask is: &8220;How good are the schools?&8221;

Having quality education and a glorious high school has benefited Albert Lea&8217;s economy. It has attracted companies and attracted good employees to existing businesses. Right now, the Albert Lea Medical Center is recruiting medical professionals almost every day.

Economic benefits of passing the levy won&8217;t be easy to spot unless you are directly involved with Albert Lea&8217;s growth or one of the people who recently moved here, but should the measure fail, the problems will become easy to spot.

C. State cuts to local government aid and inequality in school funding are the real culprits. Don&8217;t take frustration for the lack of state leadership out on our children. As a result of state funding issues, 58 school districts in Minnesota seek an operating levy in the upcoming election. That&8217;s a sign there&8217;s a real problem in St. Paul.

Parents want smaller class sizes. Voters want politicians to help reduce class sizes. State lawmakers do a lot of talking, but we aren&8217;t seeing action. Local school officials are left in the middle. If the referendum fails, teachers will be cut. Albert Lea class sizes will get bigger.

The referendum will help Albert Lea remain a good school district because in rural Minnesota right now, it&8217;s either maintain or fall behind. It will be more costly later to fall behind. Vote yes on Nov. 7.