A dark day in Cortez

Nov. 7 was not a red-letter day for Cortez. Black crepe would be more appropriate. We had a question on the ballot, Measure 3B, asking voters for an increase of close to 5 mills a year in our property tax to pay for better teacher salaries, new school buses and improved technology. It failed by 55 to 45 percent.

Education should not be considered an expense; it is an investment. Why anyone would not want a better education for our future leaders can only be chalked up to stupidity.

It may seem that if you don’t have children in school, you don’t have any stake in what happens to the new generation. But, just from a selfish standpoint, consider that they might be of help in your lifetime. Who knows what child today may come up with a cure for some malady (a disease or disorder of the animal body)? And, yes, we are an animal of the lower class, afflicted with a genetic disorder called greed. We are born helpless and seem to remain so for most of our lives and without education will remain so.

I personally am quite ignorant about many things in this universe but know enough that I want the best education for my children and grandchildren as well as the offspring of other parents. Ask any child of 5 in a third-world country what he wants and the answer is schooling. The first thing settlers to this country built was a church and school, sometimes sending miles away for a schoolmarm, much respected by the townfolk.

Anyone can follow a mule and manage a drawn plow but it’s the fellow that invented the tractor who got more and better crops. Education did that. And who may I ask started agriculture? The women. Instead of wandering all day in search of nuts and berries they figured out to carry some seeds back to the cave, plant them and nurture them. Self-education.

Education is progress. But we are fighting a war with a group who believes strongly that backwards is the way to go. Even as I write this, the U.S. House of Representatives has proposed tax-cut legislation that would eliminate a modest $250 deduction that teachers can take if they spend that much out of their own pockets (and many spend more) for school supplies for their kids. Teachers simply don’t get much respect these days.

I just received a request to rent my land to a group interested in building windmills. Our commissioners should meet with our local coal-industry representative and ask him why he didn’t provide the coal miners some training in building renewable-energy facilities. The change in jobs would have been easy and it comes with fresh air instead of coal dust in the lungs. Education and progress.

But back to the defeat of 3B. How can a community be proud of itself when it turns its backs on its children? Our teachers are a dedicated group. A modest increase in salary would help ensure that we can find and retain such good people, but the community turned them down. Is that selfish or stupid or both?

Where were our leaders? Shouldn’t they have come out strong in support of the children? Instead, our county commissioners were busy spreading “fake news.”

I would say, “Give education a thought,” but thinking apparently is not a prerequisite to live in this area.

Galen Larson writes from Montezuma County, Colo.

From Galen Larson.