May 5 is all about the students

Published 9:52 am Thursday, April 30, 2015

For the past several weeks, readers of the Niles Daily Star — both printed and electronic versions — have been treated to a number of very thoughtful, well-written and insightful columns and “Letters to the Editor” regarding the local school bond issues Proposal I and Proposal II.

But on Thursday, April 23, 2015, a column appeared titled “Yes or No to Bond Proposals?” that has compelled me to respond in the strongest terms.

Every Niles voter needs to reread the April 23 “Yes or No to Bond Proposals?” column. Within its 500-plus words, the writer mentions himself (“I” or “me”) a total of 17 times. He makes baseless personal attacks on our interim superintendent several times, along with our new superintendent who has only been in office a few weeks.

Not once does he mention the word “student!” Not one time! How can you seriously discuss a school bond proposal without mentioning students?

Local Bond Proposals I and II need the support of all Niles voters on May 5 because they address the problems that plague our outdated school buildings and infrastructure. These two proposals are designed to give Niles students the boost they need to learn the basics and eventually compete for better jobs in a strong community so that they can raise their families here in the years ahead.

After Proposals I and II pass on May 5, they will raise the funds we need to give our local students safer and more secure buildings; it will give our students a more energy efficient and comfortable environment in which to learn; it will provide our students with better advancements in classroom technology and learning tools; and its will allow the general fund of the Niles Community Schools to be used for curriculum and learning purposes and not repairs to 70 year old equipment.

The problem with the author of the April 23 column is that it is all about him (17 times!), all about money (14 dollar signs!) and zero about the students who attend Niles Community Schools.

People need to stop thinking only of themselves and begin to think about our students and the community we are building for them.

During the past several weeks, we have learned much as a community about the Niles Community Schools and its shortfalls. We rank dead last in our level of spending among the 20 surrounding Michigan school districts. That is just shameful. Our students know this dirty little secret now and we must do all we can to let our students know that we support them.

We must defend our students against the narrow-minded and self-serving and instead provide them with the opportunities and modern learning tools they need to succeed and grow up to be “yes” voters, because on May 5, Niles will need all the “yes” voters it can get.


Jack Strayer is a regular guest columnist and is a graduate of Niles High School. He also serves as a vice-chair of the Niles Education Foundation.