In District 93, a recent school bond that previously failed by a 1% margin was passed, this time by a significant majority of over 70% in favor. Wins like this go to show that, even though the taxpayers will have to bear the burden of higher property taxes, they largely care about quality education for the kids in their district. The same can be said for District 91 voters. People in Bonneville County see the need when it is presented to them, and they will take on the cost of education.
But the thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way. If our legislature would fund education, the burden on individual districts would be less. If one were to study what each Idahoan legislator was about, you would find that there is a select, very vocal sect of legislators that want to defund public education and would ultimately like to abolish it altogether. They would rather that people who only have the privilege to pay for schooling could send their children off to get a decent education. This extends to public funding that goes to colleges, so that would be gone in their ideal Idaho, too. Could you imagine this in our Idaho?
Before public education, those who were wealthy and could afford tutors stayed wealthy. People fought for public education because they knew it would be a great equalizer that would prepare children to become contributing citizens and give them a chance at upward mobility. It would grant children the capability to be discerning about information and become an empowered populace ready to solve modern problems. I don’t know about you, reader, but this is the kind of future I want for our children, regardless of where they come from.
Getting necessary funding for public schools from our legislature means that we, as citizens, must find candidates who are willing to fund education outright, not cut it or keep us trapped in endless bond and levy votes. We need to replace people in our current legislature holding us back with people willing to take action for public schools. Additionally, we need to make sure that we pressure whoever is currently in the legislature to fund education. This can be done by testifying in support of or against bills either virtually or in person, writing letters, signing petitions and volunteering with organizations that support school funding.
At the end of the day, it seems that Bonneville County folks care so much about education that they are willing to pay the price. If that is the case, l would urge them, in the future, to look to candidates for the legislature who would like to fund education. Then, people in Bonneville County school districts would not have to foot such large bills.
Cecile Pérez is a local mental health advocate, activist and Democratic Legislative Chair of District 32.