Inconceivable but true – cash for cars, not kids

My town often makes “best-of” lists.

Among other distinctions, Traverse City and its environs have been named the best small town, best place to retire, best beaches, best beer destination, best wine destination, best summer trip and best winter trip. We’re among the best places to do a triathlon, golf with your buddies, have an “adventurous honeymoon,” see fall foliage and be a book lover. On and on go these accolades, beyond ridiculous.

Today, the day after Election Day 2013, I’d like to bestow another designation on our best-of burg: Best place to stick your head in the sand.

I have no other way to describe why my fellow voters and taxpayers simultaneously rejected two school millage proposals, yet approved a third for road improvements. For the record, I voted for all three. The roads are bad. Sure, it would be nice to drive without your teeth jarring together. But concrete for cars over safe, warm, non-leaking schools for kids? REALLY?

Were I not a parent, I would be merely disappointed. Had all three gone down, I would have been merely disappointed. But I am a parent, and schools did indeed lose while roads (barely) won. It was not, as the Record-Eagle wrote, “an aversion to any and all tax increases.” It was an aversion to taxes for schools.

And thus I find myself beyond disappointed. I’m demoralized. The parents I know – and our ranks are dwindling – spend our lives 24-7 trying to raise independent, smart, thoughtful, kind children. The children who will run the economy and make the Social Security and Medicare contributions for the disproportionately larger older generations when we want to retire and play golf and frolic in a foodie paradise. Yet the owner of a $200,000 house couldn’t find an extra $20 a year to improve the facilities where those kids are supposed to learn what they’ll need to be prepared for their future of serfitude.

Well, welcome, ostriches. This time of year, there’s plenty of room for you on our “can’t miss!” beaches.

–          The letter M brought to you by Daily Drop Cap

10 Comments to Inconceivable but true – cash for cars, not kids

  1. Citizen says:

    And what about the fact that we re-elected our Alcoholic Mayor who has no respect for any of Traverse City’s Citizens.

    • Cari says:

      Hi Citizen – Not exactly germane to the issue on the table here, but it did make for another twist this election. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Caryn Cleland says:

    Cari, I respectfully share your disappointment but find myself taking issue with many comments I’ve read and heard today blaming a lot of this on an aging population. I am now middle aged. I have never not voted and I have never not voted in favor of a school millage. I can’t understand why 100% of the parental population of school age kids in our district aren’t registered voters. Perhaps that apathy mixed with ignorance of their offspring’s future is a major contributor to this most recent disappointment. I also wonder if 100% of school employees voted, and if they voted in favor.

    I join you in sharing our hope for a quality educational environment for all kids.

    Best regards,

    • Cari says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Caryn. You’re right that voter apathy was undoubtedly a factor in the outcome. 22 percent is abysmal no matter what the issues. As far as who’s to “blame” it was interesting to see the R-E follow-up today that all the millages passed in the city, but not the townships.

  3. Beth says:

    At the age of 66, a native, I have voted FOR every school millage…until this year. It took a lot of soul searching. It has NOTHING to do with my advancing age and EVERYTHING to do with (in no particular order): Heat not being turned on for our children, paid trips to China moments after the last failed millage (which I did vote for and wondered why ever since), lack of planning for the maintenance of our buildings and grounds until they are nearly beyond repair, ‘closing’ buildings without a plan to sell or repurpose, but uprooting children and their families and neighborhoods for no obvious reason ( the buildings still need a certain level of insurance, heat, lights and maintenance even though empty). The list goes on. I would encourage the administration to stop pointing fingers and take a close look at the image they have in the community! THEN perhaps the confidence will be there that they really do hold the children’s best interests at heart!

    • Cari says:

      Hi Beth – thanks for your comment. My own take is that a school board member election would be a better way to express frustration with the issues you raise, rather than a bond issue, which does directly affect students. That said, TCAPS did seem to learn a lesson from the 2012 shellacking, and so to have what was to me a far more budget-conscious proposal fall short again is a bitter pill.

  4. Sherry Schmalenberg says:

    My children are grown and my grandchildren are now being educated in Traverse City. I voted “yes” on all three proposals because it does, indeed, take a village. My parents and grandparents paid their fair share to educate my children and I intend to do the same for my grandchildren. What did we just tell our school-age children?

  5. Sharon says:

    I’m behind what Beth said. It’s not about not supporting the kids or not wanting excellent schools. It’s all about questions people are having about the choices the school system is making. Many of the people I’ve talked to about the millage requests said that the way the one for general school repairs was written too much like a blank check. People are disappointed that facilities (just like our roads) deteriorate to the point of more expensive repair or replacement instead of having less expensive periodic maintenance. And yes, everything wears out sometime. And yes, people not being willing to open their checkbooks sooner for upkeep is part of the problem too.

    It is really hard to be watching our public school system focusing on bringing in paying customers from China instead of on the kids that are right here today. Since they aren’t paying customers, will they end up as second-class citizens?

    It was also really hard for me to witness my children being discriminated against because they came to TCAPS in high school from one of the local charter schools. When they arrived there, they were denied entrance to advanced programs because “the school couldn’t accept the recommendations from their teachers because they didn’t know them.” They were bored in school for several years because they had studied topics through 8th grade that the public school curriculum didn’t get to until 11th. They came home telling of instruction time spent playing cards, or watching movies that had nothing to do with the class subject matter. To be fair, they came home telling of some great learning experiences too. One was denied access to NMC dual-enrollment that was desired to resolve a schedule conflict. The other was given ready access to NMC dual-enrollment simply because that child wanted to avoid doing the mandatory senior English research project.

    I voted for the auditorium upgrade, but against the other proposal. And until more of my questions are answered about many of the questions above, I’m likely to continue to only vote for narrowly-focused TCAPS requests. And it’s because I want better for our kids, not because I don’t care.

    • Cari says:

      Hi Sharon – thanks for your comment. You sound like you do indeed care. I felt like TCAPS had learned a lot from the 2012 defeat, coming back with much narrower and budget-conscious requests. The Chinese student issue seems to be a hot button. Since my kids are elementary age my experience with the district isn’t long, but I’ve always felt the classroom teachers are 100 percent focused on the students, as they should be. I also believe it is an administrator’s responsibility, among many, to find revenue where they can, whether that’s (higher) paying customers (the per-pupil allowance means current students are paying customers) grants, sponsorships, partnerships, etc.
      Again, thanks for your comment. This thread is becoming a good discussion.

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