My last two children graduated from high school in 2017. Yes, I still pay school taxes, but I don’t have any firsthand knowledge of what is happening in the schools. There is a new superintendent of my district and multiple teacher and principal changes as well.
Having children in schools helps to understand what is happening in the classroom. My neighborhood is full of smart, young parents who are involved, invested and informed about local schools in ways that only those with personal and daily contact can be.
Everyone pays taxes for roads, parks and senior centers. Yet typically hearings on those taxpayer-funded services attract only those personally affected. You will not see a roomful of parents with strollers when the city council is discussing opening or closing a senior center. Attend a hearing where your county commission is voting on whom to award the million-dollar contract for the tennis center and you won’t see too many bowling leagues signing up to speak.
Yes, school boards have to listen to all taxpayers, but they have to weigh the opinions offered on credibility and accuracy. (Boards don’t have to accept the abuse and threats we saw in Cherokee.) I believe boards must recognize that those without children in the schools are often depending on secondhand accounts of what occurs. Also, important to keep in mind: Their agendas may be different than those of parents of school-age kids.
For example, I moved from a newspaper in an affluent town in New Jersey to the west coast of Florida where residents were older and of more modest means. I went from covering school board meetings where parents routinely showed up to demand more AP classes to meetings where retirees, the dominant population at that time in the Florida community, protested rising school taxes. In New Jersey, the parents moved to the town for the schools. In Florida, the retirees came for lower taxes and affordable homes.
I am curious about your thoughts about this.