In May 2013 Klamath County residents will face a ballot measure asking whether the Klamath County School District should be allowed to borrow $31 million to build a school and do capital improvements on current structures. The proponents of this measure will claim the virtues of supporting our schools. They will claim how it is wrong to send children to "shacks" instead of nice buildings to attend class. Furthermore, they claim the community will be better off with a new building, and how this will foster a sense of pride. This pride will translate into those outside the county reconsidering Klamath County. And once it is discovered how modern the school buildings in Klamath County are, people will begin moving their families into the area. Indeed, what a wonderful world this will be!
Unfortunately, this fantasy world quickly falls apart when facts are introduced, and we consider the real reasons why people and families move. While education may be a factor in deciding to move a family from one location to another, there are more important factors families consider before moving. There is the larger family to consider — will they be farther away from Aunts and Uncles, Cousins and Grandparents if they move to Klamath? There is the weather to consider — some people don't do well in snow or colder climates. But mostly there are economic issues to consider — by moving will the family be in the same, a worse or a better economic situation? While every family will weight these questions differently, the majority of people put economics first. If moving means a loss to a standard of living, it is a good bet the move will not take place.
Think about how this county was settled. Did families endure the difficult journey to Klamath County in order to seek better buildings in which their children would be educated? Of course not. They came because of two things: Timber and Agriculture. And tied to both were the idea of a better economic opportunity for the entire family. Over a century later, while much has changed, human nature hasn't. The number one reason people are willing to move from their current location is because economic opportunity is better somewhere else. The opportunity is so much better, that it's worth the hassle of packing everything into boxes, leaving family and friends and starting from square one.
So the stories you will hear about Klamath County being more prosperous because we have a new Henly Elementary building are just that... stories. The fact is that removing $31 million from the local economy and government spending it inefficiently on over inflated union wages (many who will come from out of the county) will be a drag on the local economy, not a boost. People will not flock to Klamath County because of a new school building when there aren't good paying jobs available as well.
People will move to Klamath County when economic opportunity is better here than elsewhere. Economic opportunity will only improve here when companies can make more profit in order to hire more workers. Companies will make more profits when the burden of government stops increasing — taking more and more and more — and starts doing with less.
You may not like those facts, but that's how economies really work. And that's how schools are funded properly — when the local economy is doing well. Until then, the do-gooders can try and tax us into prosperity by building monuments that make them feel better. The sad reality is their efforts will hurt everyone in the end by making the local economy worse. Those who do graduate from high school will then need to move away to find better economic opportunities.