San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

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The San Marcos Mercury welcomes letters to the editor in support of board candidates and letters in support of or opposition to $77 million in voter-authorized debt for new, expanded and renovated facilities. Early voting starts Monday, April 29. Election Day is May 11.

» Send letters to Editor and Publisher Brad Rollins by email here.

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I feel endlessly fortunate to be a graduate of San Marcos High School.

I was taught English by Mildred Sessom, and my civics teacher was Bill Nicola. My debate team coach was Carl Jaks, who pushed me to qualify for the National Debate Tournament my senior year. And the fact that I was taught both literature and history by Virginia Witte — and formatively influenced by her patience and grace and matchless sense of purpose — is a gift I see as a kind of lottery ticket.

The thing about a winning lottery ticket, though, is that it has to be purchased, even if what you are purchasing is not much more than a small chance to win big.

From my current perspective, thirty-two years down the road, I can see that as much as my extraordinary teachers meant to me, that chance to be shaped for my future was literally purchased by the citizens of my community. They hired gifted and loving teachers, yes, but they also paid for buildings and books. They invested in a safe environment where my physical comfort was so reliable I didn’t notice it.

I learned how to drive in a room full of expensive simulators, and then in a vehicle supplied by the school district. Those weekend debate tournaments were budgeted, and when I qualified for nationals my participation – definitely unforeseen and un-budgeted – was also covered as an educational expense by my community.

As a scholar, teacher and small business owner, I have tried to make the most of my opportunities. Realistically, my chances would have been slimmer had my community not invested in me. I know I did not achieve my goals alone.

Clearly I benefitted from the support of a strong local public school district, so my attention has been drawn to your local SMCISD bond election on May 11. The plan for infrastructure upgrades and facilities renovation, the commitment to early childhood programs and the fairness of the assessment scale – all of it seems wise and forward-looking and immeasurable in the effects it will have on the young people who will walk those halls toward a rich, full life. I respect and admire how much strategic effort has moved San Marcos to this election.

Yet these proposals go beyond whether to spend your tax commitments on this particular plan. A bond election is also a public moment to understand and clarify aspirational issues too. Your money is on the line, absolutely. But so are your dreams for your children, and their dreams for themselves.

This election a chance to engage, and ultimately contribute to, a public decision about how to close the gap between who you are now and who you want to be for generations to come.

Early voting on these bond proposals begins on April 29 and ends on May 7. After that, you can still cast your vote on May 11 at the polls. I hope you add your voice to the conversation in the days to come, and I hope you add your vote to the totals that will shape the future of San Marcos, and the futures of the students who need your support to fulfill their own aspirations.

And I hope you can understand how grateful I am for the livelihood and accomplishments that you began to make possible for me so many years ago.

Hays, Kan.

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A 1981 graduate of San Marcos High School, HAMLIN holds master’s and doctorate degrees in political science from Rutgers University and a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Baylor. He has held fulltime lecturing positions at Rutgers, Spring Hill College and Fort Hays State University.  is frequently invited to offer commentary on civic renewal and public life in print and on TV. Hamlin is a senior fellow at the Center for Civil Leadership’s American Democracy Project.

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3 thoughts on “Letter: School investment gives kids a shot to make good on potential

  1. Well of course he is for the bonds! He wont have to pay one red cent of taxes towards them ! Hays, Kansas is a long way from San Marcos, Tx !

  2. “A bond election is also a public moment to understand and clarify aspirational issues too.”

    “Aspirational” or inspirational?

    To bad the school district did not engage in robust dialogue with its taxpayers who will carry the burden, including the “Citizens Advisory Board” quoted in all their literature.

    To have a moment to “understand” or “clarify” warrants there is a DISCUSSION with FEEDBACK. None of which has occurred. It was decided, presented, and placed as a ballot measure, with free speech rights chilled at public hearings in the process.

    Where is the conversation about the moldy administration building, which is not in the bond package.? Or, the $22,000 spent on a consulting firm? I wonder how those parents that need the PRE – K center will be able to afford the added tax burden? Have you not looked at the income ranges in San Marcos?

    Football stadiums will not provide jobs in the future for our youth. Perhaps the district can write a grant for parenting classes or job training for parents who are not teaching their children to read, hence the need for the PRE-K Center.

    Warm Regards, LMC

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