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Must come together to protect our schools

As a mother and nurse, I am appalled at the buildings we ask our kids to spend the bulk of their days in. Mold, asbestos and lead paint are toxic to the human body and forcing vulnerable children to seek education in these settings is horrifying. This is a public health crisis.

I’ve been on the phone for weeks with legislators, begging for help funding our schools. The poverty our area faces is genuine and I can’t entirely fault the taxpayers for voting down funding earlier this year. The only response I received was from Rep. Sue Allor’s office, who just referenced millages.

We live in the wealthiest country on the planet — it is unconscionable that the health and safety of our kids rates so low on political priorities. Aside from the ethics of the issue, there is a great economic consideration. We cannot expect to have a functional economy with crumbling schools. There is research that associates funding schools with economic return. If we want to attract and retain talented professionals to our area, we have to have schools that they will send their own kids to. Remember this every time you have to drive out of town to see a specialist.

This issue is a result of chronically underfunded schools, and the failure of our elected officials to serve their constituents.

Still, when I get down about this, I am inspired by this community. Somehow, it always comes together to take care of each other, because living up north is beautiful, not easy. It takes grit. We have a school board, state legislators, and governor, all charged with providing for children, an inherently vulnerable population. My hope is they get creative, roll up their sleeves, and work together to provide safe and healthy schools for our kids to learn.

HAILEY BLACK,

Alpena