Money back guarantee?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 16, 2005

Many of us recall the familiar Presidential campaign slogan, &uot;Read my lips, no new taxes,&uot; but that’s not what North Carolinians are saying when it comes to having a statewide lottery.

Instead, their slogan seems to resonate an enthusiastic, &uot;bring it on!&uot; In an online poll conducted by the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald it seems that there is an overwhelming amount of support for the passage of legislation favoring the lottery, but I wonder what those same people would say if they realized that the legislation wouldn’t be the &uot;golden opportunity&uot; they think it would be, but rather a state led movement to dupe low-mid income families into lining the pockets of those residing in richer counties such as Wake and Mecklenburg.

In speaking with North Carolina Family Policy Council’s Director of Government Relations John Rustin, I learned that the two counties stand to gain approximately $17,506,609.22 (Meklenburg) and $16,771,549.55 (Wake) while the smaller, more economically challenged counties in the northeast wouldn’t so much as garner $1,818,399.38 including Gates County ($1,525,713.34 counting only Bertie, Hertford and Northampton).

With all due respect, are they really the ones in need of hiring and retaining qualified teachers? New computers? Educational materials?

Taking away the social argument altogether, what hard working parent do you know living in any one of these four counties would sell their kids’ education out to pay for someone else’s kids education in Wake County or Meklenberg County schools when the schools in their own area scarcely have internet access?

Not many, I would imagine. Somehow I don’t see candidates running for government offices, locally or otherwise chanting, &uot;elect me, I’ll make sure the rich get richer and the poor get poorer,&uot; least of all in counties where the median household income is an estimated $30,000.

In southern terms, &uot;that dog don’t hunt&uot; folks. Yet that is exactly what is happening in our legislature.

I agree more money is needed for education, but is a lottery really the best vehicle to get us there when the wheels do nothing but spin in vain on the tracks of good intentions?

Sure we need to attract &uot;bright, energetic individuals to the teaching profession,&uot; but even the smartest, best and brightest teacher knows his or her salary is only a small component of the education equation.

Teachers who are worth their weight in gold, though admittedly under appreciated, rarely enter the profession for the money, something for which we should be thankful since mercenaries don’t make for good long-term employees.

The best teachers are not necessarily the ones with the biggest paycheck; they are the ones whose driving passion is to see the product of their efforts reflected back in the eyes of a child who understands something he or she didn’t before. Buildings are great, but they don’t educate our children, parents and teachers do.

Ironically, despite the lofty promises made by the state of Georgia to use the $8 billion in overall lottery revenue, which was specifically earmarked for education, Georgia students ranked 49th lowest out of 50 states in the nation for SAT scores, up one from last year when it ranked bottom of the barrel, since the inception of the lottery, not to mention second from the bottom in its number of dropouts.

I wonder if the parents of those students still think money was the solution to all their education problems now.

In all honesty, if money is the problem and we really cared as deeply as we say we do about our kids getting the kind of education they need, we shouldn’t mind the increased tax burden.

Aren’t the kids worth it on the merit of their own existence?

They ought to be.