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Schools and Taxes

by Ron Kitson

There's a big difference between school taxes today and what they amounted to sixty years ago when I was in school.

If you think they should lower school taxes, what would you be willing to give up? If you agree with how the schools operate today then I guess you need to pay the cost.

Do our children get better educated nowadays than 60 years ago? How about a hundred or two hundred years ago? Did Abe Lincoln get well educated and how about Ben Franklin, Samuel "Mark Twain" Clemens, Thomas Edison or Alexander Graham Bell?

We had no carpeting and no air conditioning. Had it been available, they would do doubt have said "why should we buy air conditioning for a building that's closed all summer?"

We had no cafeteria so except for those who lived close enough to go home for lunch, we all brought a lunchbox to school.

We had no gym in elementary school. We played games outside at recess except if it was raining too hard, we played in the basement. Elementary schools had no auditorium and no music lessons.

We had a music teacher who stopped by once a week to teach us the basic fundamentals but if your parents agreed to music lessons, they did not involve the schools nor the tax payers.

We had no school buses. We walked, biked or took a bus depending on circumstances but we all made it to class and although we had lots of snow during the winter, we had no "snow days."

Schools had either a very small parking lot or none at all. My guess is that our entire high school property was smaller than most school parking lots today.

We had no computers and so no computer classes. Of course they weren't available at that time but I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have allowed them if they had been. All homework had to be hand written and not typed and a spelling error cost you points in a test regardless of the subject.

We had strict discipline and incorrect grammar or pronunciation was not accepted. You would not hear an eighth grader (let alone college graduates) using double negatives or describing a baseball play as "it musta went off the end of his bat" or "he knocked the ball down but just couldn't came up with it." (If these two quotes from Indians "play by play" sound correct to you, you would likely have flunked English sixty years ago).

And oh yes, we had no organized sports in elementary nor in high school with the exception of a track and field day once a year. No sports you ask? Not in school but we did have organized sports.

Towns and cities had a sports director plus a lot of volunteers and yes we had teams and some very good ones but they in no way involved the schools. Parents carpooled the teams to out of town games or they could charter a local bus.

Question; "Where did you go to school man?"

Answer; "I walked about one and a half miles (no hills) from our farm to the school in the village of Little Britain and later I walked just a few blocks to school in Bowmanville. Both are in Southern Ontario, Canada but I expect the big difference was not where, but rather when. Schools are all a lot different today both here and in Canada.

All in all, school was quite a bargain for the taxpayers back then and yes, the quality of education was high. You needed passing grades to advance and no child could enter high school without passing all 8th grade classes.

Schools are very modern and very well equipped today but as with expensive vehicles, homes or vacations, if that's what you want, you must be prepared to pay the cost.

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