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Farming heritage has benefited education


The comment by the Canton Central School board president in the Watertown Daily Times on March 28, “Board president defends actions,” stating that, “We have two college towns and a preponderance of people who value education. They are different than a farming town, for better or worse,” suggests a bias that doesn’t reflect the egalitarian view toward public education that Americans hold so dear.

Such a view shouldn’t be part of a dialogue regarding public school decisions. At the very least, where public education is concerned, all requests that are made appropriately should be considered with due process, as an agenda item, and responded to with the respect and diligence they deserve.

Understandably, there are tough decisions that have to be made in these challenging times. These include applying resources to educational services geared to the best interest of all children regardless of where they live or what their parents do for a living.

In the north country, rural and village inhabitants pay school taxes, shop and share in community activities. They hold their children’s education in high esteem, and most parents show up at teacher conferences. Often, those least educated want the best education for their children; they respect and rely on professionals to achieve that goal.

If we start from the premise that when public school doors open all are welcome, the decisions about how to allocate resources will be guided by a broader attitude toward the diversity of our population. The college towns that the board president refers to have been an integral part of the larger farming community known as the north country since the early 19th century. Moreover, many professionals, including educators and public affairs administrators, to name a few, choose to live throughout the north country just because of the unique ambiance and opportunity a rural lifestyle affords them.

Staff writer Chris Brock’s article, “Rhythms of rural life” in the March 28 edition of the Times, quotes Amy L. Flack, executive director of the community performance series, with a statement about the concert, “Voices From the Farm: A Tribute to the Farmers of the North Country”: “We thought it would be beautiful to take the story of our farmers who are contributing so much to us and our culture in the north country and to celebrate their stories and to hear their voices.”

There’s not too much we can do to prevent the declining numbers of family farms in the north country, but we can continue to appreciate the heritage that they have provided in which the educational institutions of the north country have thrived.

Lenore Zaunere


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