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Facing The Facts Of 'Saving Our Schools'



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To the Editor:

I have to chuckle when I’m driving through town and see the “save our schools” signs.  As sweet and innocuous as the rallying cry sounds at first blush, it’s just the old liberal trick: tug the heart strings, ignore the facts. The ugly truth will need to be tackled head-on at some point: declining enrollment in Newtown schools (and schools in communities across our state) is a long-term trend with no end in sight.  At some point, in the interests of economic health, a school will need to be closed unless this trend miraculously ebbs.  It’s never going to be a “good” time for enrolled students and their families to see their school closed.  But, make no mistake, the time will come when it is necessary.

I find it more than a little ironic that so many of my friends in the “save our schools” crowd voted (often twice) for Governor Malloy.  There seems to be a major disconnect between cause and effect here.  This is how the saga plays out: the state raises taxes to onerous levels, businesses flee, fewer employers translates into fewer employees and lower wages.  In terms of the cost of doing business, CNBC ranks Connecticut as 47th (we’re competing for the “most expensive state” trophy with Hawaii, California, and Maryland…a veritable “who’s who” of worst economies).  Newtown is not a cheap place to live.  Certainly, it’s not as pricey as the Fairfield County “Gold Coast,” but it’s not far off.  In an extended miserable climate for jobs and wages, people do what is natural: survive.  They move to areas where their paychecks go further, whether that’s to a more affordable town within their state, or out-of-state entirely.  Hence, our present declining school enrollment issue.

I have a degree of empathy for the “not my kid” mentality, but eventually, it will have to be “someone’s kid” unless this state exits the economic dregs like a phoenix rising out of the ashes. I’m not holding my breath.  Now back to making “save our money” signs.

Hayden Bates

6 Key Rock Road, Newtown                    June 30, 2015

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