In My Words: Elon, Alamance County need school bonds
The following opinion column by President Connie Ledoux Book supporting local school bonds was published Nov. 4 by The Times-News.
By Connie Ledoux Book
Throughout our history, Americans have rallied in times of crises. Unified, we come together to accomplish great things and demonstrate the power of a united democracy.
One of my favorite examples is our country’s reaction to the 1957 USSR launch of Sputnik, the first man-made satellite to orbit the Earth. President Eisenhower declared the “stark fact” that the USSR had achieved superiority in science and technology. This crisis launched what became known as the “space race,” with President John F. Kennedy proclaiming the American drive to land a man on the moon.
In support of that compelling national goal there was major investment in education at all levels, as our nation realized the importance of an educated citizenry to compete economically and remain strategically strong in a dangerous world. I benefitted from that national effort, graduating from Broadmoor High School in East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which was built in 1960.
Here in Alamance County in 1958, voters responded to the nation’s call and approved a $6.5 million bond issue for school construction by more than a 10-1 margin in an election that drew near record turnout.
Henry Dixon of the Alamance County Board of Education said the community was at a “crossroads” in what he called the “scientific age.” Between 1960 and 1963, four high schools were built (Southern, Western, Eastern and Graham), along with one middle school (Turrentine) and new and expanded elementary schools. That was 55 years ago. Since then, only one additional high school has been built – Cummings in 1970.
Like school board member Dixon 60 years ago, I believe our nation and our community are at a crossroads. If we wish for our children to be competitive in the world economy and build a brighter future for themselves, their families and their communities, we must press to make additional investment in public education.
In Alamance County, that means voters should give serious consideration to the bond and sales tax issues on the Nov. 6 ballot. The previous generations did their parts. This is our time, our responsibility, our children’s future, our community’s future.
As Elon University has grown in size and national stature, we have not lost sight of our interdependence with Alamance County and the Alamance-Burlington School System. Our campus community has benefited greatly from our partnership with ABSS teachers and students. We are invested in public K-12 education because we deeply understand the foundational importance of education at all levels of our democracy.
I believe every Alamance citizen wants to walk the halls of our public schools and experience a safe, clean and modern environment full of inspiring teachers and engaged children. Anything less than that dishonors the sacrifices of the citizens who came before us and diminishes our hope for our future.
As we did in 1957, our nation and our community must commit to adequately funding schools. In this 21st century version of Sputnik and the space race, education is our most powerful tool to ensure that our students and our country continue to lead and compete against growing economies around the world. The dividends we will reap in the decades to come will be well worth the investments we make today.