• Shame on you Pacific Grove

    by Shelby Birch 

    Measure G has failed as I feared it would. I’m just not sure why though. Is it due to the lack of understanding of the measure? One that would upgrade and maintain educational software in every classroom. Is it because voters failed to understand the initiative? Did nobody tell you that rather than sit and let people tell you what an initiative would do, you might actually have to learn something for yourself? Did you forget that you need to actually go out and get your own answers and know exactly what you are voting for and against? Or perhaps it failed because this last Tuesday we held an election and nobody seemed to know. The shockingly apathetic turnout of 17% of the population is mind numbingly disappointing. You may not realize that that means that not even all the parents of the kids showed up to vote. Did you all forget that we are living in a society and that we all need to do our part to make sure it functions in a civilized manner? That means we all turn up to vote, we all make sure that our kids are educated, and we all do our part to make the city better.

    Anyone who studied the initiative would understand that it would only allow for technology acquisition and maintenance. None of the money raised could have been used for salaries, landscaping, building maintenance, or for the principle to get an office remodeling project going. The money would only have directly benefited the kids of our community. These kids belong to all of us. We are responsible for raising them. When we see kids playing in a busy street, we say something. When we see that they are lacking in basic education, we say something.

    We have all agreed to a number of things by choosing to live in this society. We have agreed to pay taxes in order to provide for the services we all take for granted. When there is an emergency we all expect someone to show up and save our asses. Protect our house, our car, and our stereo, but when it comes to getting money for our kids…that’s someday else’s problem.

    This was a fantastic bond that was unique in its structure. It was essentially a series of short-term bonds that would each have been paid off completely before the next bond was issued. The marvelous aspect of that structure was that the bonds were not massive with corresponding massive interest rates to pay off first. Anyone who has a mortgage, car loan, or credit card knows how this works. We have all been frustrated by the fact the money we paid each month to the bank would be used first to pay off the interest on our loans, then the tiny remainder would be used to pay down the principle. Measure G would have prevented such a waste of taxpayer money.

    If we talk rough numbers, traditional bonds would put only 50% of your tax money toward supplying technology to the schools with the rest going toward interest payments. Measure G would have been 90% spent on what it was intended for. All of that money would have stayed in the Pacific Grove Unified School District as well. No other school district would have been able to take one red cent of the money that would have gone to help our kids get that much further to being able to compete in the world work force.

    But for far too many it came down to “No New Taxes,” the long ballyhooed cry of those who have given up on society and don’t care what you do with your life so long as you don’t touch their money. These are the same people who complain about the police and how they get interfere with their lives and freedoms yet are quick to dial 911 when they hear a noise outside their back door at 3AM. The same people who complain about how the firefighters are overpaid and sit on their butts all day yet are quick to change their tune when the kitchen goes up in flames. The same people that use the same tired little signs that say simply “No New Taxes” with a letter taped over the last initiative that would dare propose to raid their piggy banks. Let’s not bother figuring out if we need the money, no thank you sir, let’s just cut funding all around.

    It is that cutting of funding that has gotten us to the position we are in today. There is nothing more comforting to know than the fact that there will always be a place for slide projectors, film strips, and overhead projectors in the museums for antiquated technology we call American schools.

    We have all heard that it takes a village to raise kids. You have to think about the kind of raising we are doing. We are quick to say that programs are constantly getting cut but slow to do anything to prevent it or to replace the funding when we need to.

    I know there is even a group of you grouches out there that are retired and don’t have family in the school district. So there is no way you are going to approve funding for a school system that you don’t use. Imagine if everyone were like that and your grandkids couldn’t get funding in their community because it is filled with people just like you that refuse to see the benefit of an educated workforce. You know the kind, one that can read, ask a written question using more than four letters to do it, and can actually figure out the costs and benefits of buying a car versus leasing. Even better, try to imagine an employed workforce that have better things to do than loiter, graffiti, vandalize, and carjack you every three days.

    Something that you may not have figured out is that your kids are more than likely going to spend the better part of a decade within just this school district. Be honest here, you would never settle for a ten year old television, computer, or cell phone. Technology shouldn’t be older than your kids. As such, the school district is going to have to replace the technology sooner rather than later. Since the bond failed, now the question is whose salary do we cut, which teacher do we lay off, and which class gets to have 40 kids in it now?

    Pacific Grove deserves more than to be a tinhorn community. When the issue comes around again, I hope that you get together to help the schools raise the money to keep the technology updated. We all have to remember that we get what we pay for. And what we are paying for is the future of our kids and how they will strive in life. It would have cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 a month. What will it really cost you now? Oh well, as my grandfather always said, “the world always needs ditch diggers.” Good thing, too, because that is where your kids are going to end up.

    Responsible replies to this commentary can be addressed to sbirch@cedarstreettimes.com

    posted to Cedar Street Times on November 7, 2013

    Topics: Opinion

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