We cannot be a nation ignorant and free

The fathers of the United States of America understood that the government they were creating was an experiment. It was a style of government in a rough and foreign land when compared to Europe. The men that signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were men of the Enlightenment. They saw their creation as an important moment in social science. Thomas Jefferson believed that if educated people where given facts they would come to the right conclusions for the greater good. George Washington also relied upon the informed citizen to understand that at moments of upheaval the correct solution would come from the thoughtful consideration by an educated public. 

Two hundred thirty four years after the American Revolution I believe we have forgotten we are still an experiment. It is a different experiment now. We are now seeing if we can retain our greatness when we are rocked by our current economic recession. Problems seem to come at us at an untenable rate. The ability to assess our options, in reaction to each challenge, can only be met by tamping down the emotional rhetoric and approaching each issue with our intellect while listening to our hearts. Good decisions demand a well educated public.

Having the best educational opportunity for the largest number of people has become more important than ever. As has been described long ago by economists, manufacturing will go to the region of the cheapest labor. That has happened. One of the challenges of crawling out of our current recession is we have sent our manufacturing jobs overseas. When the economy improves it will be factories offshore that will revive first. We have also let our educational systems weaken at a time where any good paying job demands high level schooling. We live in a country where every politician and citizen speaks of support for education but rejects most attempts to fund it. We live in a state that continues to reduce funding for education. We have shipped our manufacturing jobs away and now we are abdicating our worldwide intellectual leadership to India and China. Nationally and locally, education is the real form of economic development. Creativity in thinking keeps us in the lead worldwide. We might not manufacture it here anymore but we can invent it here.

Education in Colorado is struggling. Property taxation is the only legal way to fund our schools. What needs to be understood is if we had the best school system in the inner mountain region of Colorado we would draw and keep the best people in terms of energy and productivity. It won’t take much to shine brighter than the rest considering the general apathy regarding education statewide. We will hear nay sayers regarding funding for schools. They need to understand that quality schools will raise the quality of life for the entire area. Chaffee County is a beautiful place. I believe people will trade the higher pay of a metro area for the quality of life offered here if we can also offer a quality education for their kids. I also believe that the children raised in our area will stay, or return, if stimulating work is available. We can only re energize our economy by drawing the young entrepreneurs that bring their own jobs to Chaffee County. That will not happen till we fully support our schools.

I strongly believe that education is the ultimate economic development tool. It brings imagination to our people that creates solutions, inventions and excitement. It creates hope in our youngsters and has them return with new ideas for the betterment of all of us in our community. Why be like everyone else.\sWe can stand out by making R 32 J the best school system in innermountain region of Colorado.

Education is the ultimate form of patriotism. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, we cannot be a nation ignorant and free.