Marolt: Tell me how important local education is | AspenTimes.com

Marolt: Tell me how important local education is

Roger Marolt
Roger This

There are lots of good reasons to enhance local education, and I am not going to talk about any of them today. You know what they are. You don't need to be reminded. I have tried talking about them before and failed miserably.

I would rather talk about something I know. It is the hundreds of thousands of reasons not to get behind a private effort to additionally fund our public schools. Ironically, the sum of all these reasons to say "enough is enough" is the proof that we support education in the first place. The biggest question in many people's minds is at what interest rate each and every one of these reasons can be paid off. I say let's talk about them instead of putting them on a bank's amortization schedule secured by home equity and hoping they are a memory before retirement.

Add them up. We pay for education though property taxes, sales taxes and income taxes. We write checks for extracurricular activities and sports. We pull out the credit cards for supplies, tests and college applications. Tutors and private coaches are options for doling out even more cash. Then, the granddaddy of all giving in the pursuit of higher education is college tuition, room and board, books and fees. Mind the fees!

I get it. I give liberally for education. I've got one in college now and one more next year, and my youngest will be there in four more years. I look through this tunnel papered in tender, and the light is still eight years down the tracks.

Instead of education, what if you want to do something for, say, starving, homeless or sick people? Animals? The environment? Independence Pass? What if you're worried about saving for retirement and health care in your old age? You only have one pie to slice. That makes it even easier to say "enough" for education and hold the whipped cream. I'm with you.

I have this middle-age, middle-class recurring thought. It has to do with education's purpose being to make the world a better place and not necessarily to get rich with. It has to do with the ever-rising cost of mental improvement. It has to do with getting educated to earn a lot of money so my kids can be educated so they can make even more money to send their kids to even more expensive schools so they can afford to educate their kids and on and on and on. When do we jump out of the vortex to do some of the good things that education is supposed to prepare us for? I mean, if you spin out long enough to find a higher purpose, what happens to the cycle? Help!

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This is an admittedly odd way to make a plea for all of us to stay involved in funding public education in Aspen, yet that is my intention. It is to demonstrate that I do not have all the answers, not even close, as to why the average guy needs to put more of his hard-earned and limited funds into local education, even though deep down I believe we should because it is the key to understanding and ultimately discovering truth.

And that's my point. Let's all participate in the discussion so we can sort things out and figure out exactly what is appropriate involvement for everyone in the community. Even if we never personally acquire the means, or desire, to make substantial financial contributions directly to enhance local education, you never know when you might be in a position to further the cause through the opportunities that have a way of fortuitously presenting themselves in a place like Aspen. The key is to be aware and informed. I am convinced that there is a part for everyone in this. Education is not welfare; it's an investment that comes back to us (every single one of us). I also know that we need a vehicle to rally around, and I think the Aspen Education Foundation is that vehicle.

The foundation is hosting its big annual party Nov. 8 at the St. Regis Aspen Resort hotel. The theme is homecoming, so you can dress like a teenager and act like one, too. Commit to having a great time in this great community, and buy your tickets today. Yes, all proceeds go toward supplementing local education at the discretion of our schools' administration, but even more importantly, in my view, it is a fun event where everyone's participation leads to better discussion and solutions.

Where else would we start?

Roger Marolt knows local education is important. He's trying to put it in context with everything else. Contact him at roger@maroltllp.com.

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