On Tuesday, about a third of the school districts across Minnesota held out their cups for money. Amazingly (to me, anyway), in nearly 4 out of 5 districts, voters approved extensions of local levies to support operating budgets and capital projects like building repair and technology upgrades. Coming from where I do – other states across the west (Colorado, California, Arizona) where voters consistently refused to support education – it’s gratifying to share voting districts with other people who are willing to put money into their children and their shared future. When I lived in Denver, people in the surrounding suburbs occasionally decried us as “socialist” (literally) for passing levies to support schools, not to mention also the zoo, museums, and parks (even though the affronted in these cases were not affected by the vote). Here it’s not a city vs. suburb issue, or a red district vs. blue district issue, which is gratifying.
Still, as the linked article in the StarTribune points out, it’s not a perfect system. The system of local levies deepens the gulf between the haves and the have nots. Stillwater, for example, wasn’t able to get its levies passed and will now have to cut $10 million from its budget. That’s painful. It’s a sweet little town but today I’m glad I don’t live there. I’m for a degree of local control and support of education. I think they help us feel more ownership of our local schools and keep us more involved. But then my mind goes over to the kids over in Stillwater and I think, “What did they do to deserve less?”