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Paid political letter: I value public education

What do you value? What are your values? I value the education I received in Albert Lea public schools. Truth be told, I could have worked harder and learned more. That’s on me. Great education was there for me, and 50 years later that great education is here for every student.

My family roots are deep in public education. My father, Valdemar Xavier, was principal at Albert Lea Central Junior High and then at the new, round Brookside Junior High. Six close relatives are or were public school teachers. I taught a year in a rural public school with K-12 in one building. As pastor, I had frequent, positive partnerships with public schools in nurturing young people. I value public schools.

I talk to students about relationships in the educational system. For example, if my confirmation students were complaining about a teacher or coach or principal, I would ask, “Are you thinking of the teacher as an adversary, or as a partner in your learning?”

It was and is my goal to make it clear that we have a team that has the goal of raising people who have tools to be assets for the USA. There are different stakeholders on the team, people who have an interest and are affected by the outcome. Start with the student, their families, then teachers, coaches, support staff — custodial, cafeteria, busing, office, aides — administration, voters, taxpayers, government — local, state, national — and finally, employers who want good workers. Public education is a complex system. I value public education.

Sometimes individual stakeholders have interests they value over education. For example, there was the time my father-in-law expressed his opposition to a school bond in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He valued several hundred dollars over public education. My wife pointed out the La Crosse schools educated him and his wife and his seven children. “You haven’t paid back half of what the system paid for our education!” In this instance the children taught their father to value public education.

Public education is not valued by President Donald Trump or Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. They have little or no experience with public education. They both went to private schools and sent their children to private schools. That is the direction they are leading the nation, to the detriment of public education.

The National Education Association grades lawmakers based on their votes that effect public education. Our U.S. senators from Minnesota, Smith and Klobuchar, earned As. Their votes show they value public education. Jim Hagedorn, our congressman from Minnesota District 1, got an F. Unlike Republican Pete Stauber from Duluth, Hagedorn is not bipartisan when it comes to public education. Republican Stauber earned an A.

If you value public education, vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for president and vice president. Vote for Tina Smith for senator. Vote for Dan Feehan for 1st Congressional District. Vote for Thomas Martinez for Minnesota House of Representatives 27A. Vote for Dan Sparks for Minnesota Senate District 27.

Joel Xavier