I’ve recently heard a lot of comparisons between public schools and business. Usually this is meant to justify lower budgets and thus lower taxes. But public education is not a business. In public education, unlike business, the customer is also the product.

Schools are meant to serve students, and an educated student is the result. Public schools are funded by the taxpayers, but they serve future taxpayers. Schools shouldn’t “work for” taxpayers; they should work for students.

Current taxpayers, rather than feeling ripped off by their obligations (both legal and moral) to support public education, ought to appreciate this as the duty they owe to the next generation. Until the unwise shifting of school funding to the local level being pushed in Augusta is reversed, taxpayers have little option but to pay for the schools their communities count on.

Yes, the price tag can be uncomfortably high for good schools. But what’s the alternative really?

Many worry about the effect of higher taxes on their community. But for every family that avoids a town because of property taxes, many more will avoid it when a school is not up to par.

Education doesn’t work like a business day-to-day, but it does offer a return on investment. The businesses of the future will not develop in places without a well-educated workforce. And a quality education today is expensive. Just think of all the things that kids need to learn today that we didn’t and multiply that by the increases in prices for everything. Is it any wonder then that school budgets are asking for modest increases?

Given the option to pay for quality education now, or pay for all the problems that come with a poorly educated population later, the choice should be obvious.

Derek Michaud, Fairfield

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