Don Rogers: How best to shape the future | TheUnion.com

Don Rogers: How best to shape the future

Help Wanted: Dynamic true believer in the Grass Valley School District to lead successful campaign for first bond measure in 50 years to upgrade aging school buildings and technology.

Requirements: Clear understanding of students' educational needs. Ability to mobilize support through the mom networks, business community, neighborhoods and service organizations across political affiliations and among the majority of voters who don't have kids in school. Cannot be employed by the school district. No experience necessary. Love of children helpful.

Compensation: That warm place in your heart from doing good.

But I'm a little ahead of myself here.

Education to me is philosophy (including religious), literature, history, political theory, general science starting with physics. Even biology, teaching and psychology are getting a little trade-schooly for me. Medicine and law at root are crafts, however grand

— on the same scale requiring certification as cosmetology and piloting.

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The school board hasn't decided whether to go for a referendum much like the one passed for the high school district last November. But the elementary school district is serious enough about this to engage the same survey firm.

Here's a plug to answer the phone if Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates call. Between Halloween and Thanksgiving, they aim to survey 300 likely voters to determine support.

You can help answer whether to go for a bond election, how much to ask for, which needs to highlight and what arguments might be most persuasive. The firm will help the board navigate all this, as well as whether to ask in June or November, if at all.

Whatever the board decides, the district can't use any of its resources or take the obvious political position they would in an election. They can only provide information and show the need for improvements to their school buildings and infrastructure.

Any campaigning must come from outside. So: Wink. Wink.

In part, I'm sure, this is why I was invited to a school board meeting this week to listen and offer feedback to a summary of those needs, the possibility of an election, and their interest in reaching out to the wider community for input. It was a good bet I'd share at least some of what I heard.

I'm far from disinterested, the son of a teacher, husband of a one-time school nurse. My kids each attended public school — where the best overall education happens, by the way, much of it outside the classroom. They went on to excel in college, each earning two degrees to match their mother and far exceed Dad.

I'm radical enough that I view public schooling, however flawed, as the very cornerstone of our civilization. Flip the script, I say. Pay teachers more than lawyers and investment bankers, and we'll finally reach that more perfect union.

Even worse: I understand we need to train plumbers and mechanics, and many or most kids are not suited for college. But I do believe, no doubt irrationally, we should work first to their highest potential.

Throw 'em all at college and see what sticks. You never know. They can become electricians later. Or bartenders and wildland firefighters, employing my useful skills besides typing.

I'm told I'm nuts viewing engineering, business, municipal planning as trades separate from a genuine education.

Education to me is philosophy (including religious), literature, history, political theory, general science starting with physics. Even biology, teaching and psychology are getting a little trade-schooly for me.

Medicine and law at root are crafts, however grand — on the same scale requiring certification as cosmetology and piloting.

Seriously, we have as many architects who can't think as restaurant servers who can.

OK, you don't have to agree with me to value education as a practical matter or see good reason to invest in children learning in up-to-date facilities, with heat and air conditioning that works, roofs that don't leak.

Whether our biological offspring or not, they are most assuredly our kids. We all have a role in giving them — and us — the best opportunity for the future, especially when it's so easy for them to fall astray. This is what community is all about.

Now, I can't say whether my interest in improving a great place through the best possible education will mean I personally support a given bond measure when/if the time comes for any of our school districts.

But it's no mere truism to observe today's children will run things tomorrow. We have a very real stake in helping them now to help us later. You don't even have to like children to understand they're worth the investment. Maybe even worth joining a campaign if the school board decides to go for an election measure.

Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at drogers@theunion.com or 477-4299.