Letter to the editor: Popcorn makes the cut; but education fails

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By The Staff

A few years ago we moved into the Chiefland area and have come to know the good people and beautiful countryside that are the hallmark of this area. We currently have two children in our local schools and have repetitively encountered school workers that are dedicated to their work and the future of our community. But culturally, our community is simply not committed to an educational standard required to effect a significant change in our local economy and well-being.

 The link between education and a population’s general well-being is known. According to Gallup polls, the Levy County area ranks low nationally in both physical health and more importantly “Life Evaluation.” Life Evaluation refers to our own assessment of the quality of our lives and where we expect to be in five years. The data is disconcerting. More disconcerting is the general lack of alarm in the community.

 Per the latest U.S. Census, Chiefland ranks below the nation in education at almost every level. More of our local population has an education level of less than 5th grade, lower than the national average. This trend of low performance continues through every age group until college. It follows, and makes sense, that the college picture is much worse. Our national population with Bachelor’s degrees is almost twice the percentage of the Chiefland area. Differences in Master’s degrees and Doctor’s degrees are dramatic.

 As parents we are aware that in a few short years we will be sending our children to a high school with a state accountability grade of “C.” Our Levy County school district is currently in “corrective action” based on the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. This local challenge feeds itself because education-minded parents are forced to consider abandoning our Levy County public schools—and then school performances suffer.

 In light of all this, we simply cannot understand why our school district would choose not to air a message of education from the President of the United States. We need this kind of message more than anyone! We fully understand that this speech became politicized. However, voices on the both the right and the left made sure the content and approach was balanced and appropriate. God bless our political system. Where were our local administrators on this one?

 At our dinner table we get daily school reports from our children. There is plenty of fluff at our public schools. Popcorn and pizza parties abound. Entertaining movies are shown…and on and on. We don’t mind. But when we can’t make a way to get access to our chief executive’s message—specifically targeted to our children—to actually promote education in an area with a need as huge as ours, it is a sad day. And that day is now.



Boyd and Cheryl Belnap