Sunday, February 28, 2021

PRESS ENDORSEMENT: Step up for your schools

| February 21, 2021 1:00 AM

Here's a certainty: Your public schools have never needed your support more than they do right now.

Here's a concern: That some people, normally supportive of their schools, will use this unique past year to try to make a statement, voting "no" for any number of reasons, including displeasure at the way their district has handled the COVID-19 crisis.

And here's a suggestion: Join this newspaper in voting for the supplemental levy on your ballot March 9, focusing on all the right reasons.

There is justification to feeling upset at some aspects of the COVID-19 crisis, a once-in-a-lifetime accident which has made countless excellent organizations look at times like rank amateurs. Schools that have leaned more heavily on digital learning than classroom participation have taken plenty of heat, which is understandable. If we've learned anything this past year, it's that for most students and parents, the digital experience falls far short of education on an intimate, personal level.

In our view, no district in our region embraced digital learning because of pressure from the teachers' union or gripes from district employees. While discontent no doubt has been expressed from within, every decision we've seen made — Coeur d'Alene School District in particular has been in a state of flux during the past year — was done with the very best intent of keeping staff and students safe.

So what's right about the levies? The list is as long as every single excellent teacher gracing our communities, but let's focus on this one clear point: To do away with any of them will reduce, directly and immediately, the quality of education here. Post Falls is least reliant on its levy, but all three districts rely on this funds to pay for education basics, and we include in that the extracurricular activities at many schools that keep students engaged and off the streets causing trouble.

In the case of Coeur d'Alene and Lakeland, rejecting the levies will lead to significant job loss. At no times is that a pleasant thought, but when you're trying to get your nose above a pandemic's water line, it's simply not an acceptable option. Nor has any district asked for more than it needs. All went to extraordinary levels to ensure their requests merely met the most basic demands.

Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene and Lakeland all do a superb job of preparing the young people in their care to become productive citizens, which is the ultimate goal of education. They deserve every dollar of support they're seeking.