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Letter: With yes vote, our kids can keep changing the world

By Jim Krapf, Worthington

The T-shirt that I recently purchased through Early Risers Kiwanis reads: “CHANGE THE WORLD - K-Kids - Prairie Elementary.” The mission of Kiwanis is to "Serve the Children of the World." K-Kids is a program for Prairie students to develop their leadership and community service.

Wanting the opportunity to achieve these goals can influence our vote on the school referendum. What I express here is my opinion; I am not speaking as a representative of any group.

There are several reasons that some people question the referendum funding. I sense that among these are the disgust that taxes are paying for the education of non-citizens or the children of undocumented parents. It is because of growing numbers of immigrants that classrooms are overcrowded throughout ISD 518 facilities. Non-Caucasian students are the majority at Prairie.

It can be difficult to estimate the overall cost of education for unauthorized immigrant children.  The cost is, however, paid for in part by immigrants who must also pay property taxes either directly or through their rent. Whether what they pay equals the cost for them is debatable.

However, according the Congressional Budget Office, what is not difficult to determine is the added cost society will bear if these children do not receive an education, or if they are kept from pursuing a higher education because of their legal status. Most experts agree that money invested in education will lead to significant returns in the form of higher-paying jobs and greater tax revenue.

Knowing this, ISD 518 promotes a positive environment with a staff that values the education of every child no matter the challenges. There are also community members who promote academic success. Among them are Early Riser Kiwanians who do so, with their QWIK Awards (Quality Work Inspires Kids). When students of every ethnicity receive these awards, other students cheer them on.

Our kids in ISD 518 are learning how to work together in a very diverse world.  As they value everyone's contribution, they are CHANGING THE WORLD for the better. I believe our "yes" vote on the referendum will equip them to continue to do so. Research shows that keeping class sizes lower because there is adequate space will have a positive academic effect on students. I am willing to pay my share for this to happen.

We can be an example to the nation of what it means to fulfill the 1982 Supreme Court decision in Plyler vs. Doe. This ruling established that all children in the U.S., regardless of their legal status, have the right to a free public education. In its decision, the Court cited the protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and added that "by denying these children a basic education we deny them the ability to live within the structure of our civic institutions, and foreclose any realistic possibility that they will contribute in even the smallest way to the progress of our Nation."

I hope to wear my T-shirt proudly.