Last week’s title came from a campaign button. This week’s comes from the English translation of the Latin words that wrapped around a prep school lapel pin that adorned your little correspondent in junior high school.
Ashby residents came out in droves this week, setting a record voter turnout for a local election, with 1,108 votes being cast for a 54 percent turnout of the electorate. (Townsend passed it a day later with a 43 percent voter turnout.) The vote was extremely close reinforcing just how difficult and divisive it can be seeking to address unfunded state mandates once our legislators abandon their fiduciary responsibility to us.
Regardless, the decision of how to fund education has been addressed for the three communities of Ashby, Townsend and Pepperell. The issue now becomes one of what our schools will do with the money to educate our children, and hence the title of the article.
While the schools may not feel what the communities ponied up is sufficient, it represented a huge sacrifice for many voters with that voter sacrifice coming after elected officials and volunteers spent countless hours reviewing operating budgets in an effort to extract as much money as possible from general government budgets. The process gave me new appreciation for the statement that politics is like sausage-making and that watching either made is not for those with weak stomachs.
Much has been given, then, and much will be expected. The current superintendent seems to understand the urgency as evidenced by statements she, Dr. Marshall, has made at various meetings and gatherings about refashioning primary education to address better the needs of the new economy.
Our migration to a services- and knowledge-driven economy heightens the critical importance education has to one’s career earnings potential. While not impossible, the ability to make a decent wage for oneself and to raise a family with little more than a high school diploma will become increasingly difficult going forward. According to a Boston Herald Labor Day editorial, two-thirds of all new jobs being created require post secondary education.
More glaring was the following, which should be read aloud to each and every child in the high school if not chiseled into the walls at their favorite gathering spots:
“With the new school year starting, students need to be aware that high school dropouts make $522 per week for full-time work and their unemployment rate is 7.1 percent. Meanwhile, workers with a high school diploma average $704 weekly, and this segment of the work force has a 4.4 percent unemployment rate. Workers with associate degrees average $846 per week, and this group’s unemployment rate is 3.5 percent. But workers with at least a bachelor’s degree average $1,393 per week and have an unemployment rate of 2.1 percent.”
There it is. Going on to a four-year college doubles your earnings potential over the course of what will likely be a 40-year employment career and two-thirds of all new jobs require some form of post-secondary education.
This continued transformation into a knowledge economy requires us to invest in our children’s education and to demand excellence from our educators while working diligently at home to hold the kids accountable.
The overrides went through and now results must be delivered. Hopefully, we do not look back on this override fight several years from now and think of it as having been the easy part of the equation. We have way too much invested to see our schools languish.
(Note: This week, the town of Ashby passed an override of $194,395 and Townsend voters passed an override of $644,925. Both overrides were needed to meet the assessments of the North Middlesex Regional School District for fiscal year 2008.)