Unlike many, I'm not angry with the School Board; its decisions simply reflect the majority-attitude of our community.

I am as fiercely independent-minded as any American.

I expect a small, efficient government to establish just enough of a fair system such that all individuals may enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness -- by means of his or her own determination and hard work.

However, I also realize that there are goals I cannot accomplish alone, ones accomplished by teamwork. Creating strong, productive, public schools is paramount among these goals.

What aspects of American life are fundamentally rooted in the public schools? The world's most viable economy, the world's most powerful military, the world's highest overall standard of living, one of the world's longest life expectancies (even in the face of world-leading obesity), an abundance of safe food, the houses we live in, the clothes we wear, the paint we use in our living rooms, the cancer treatments that save millions of lives a year, electricity, the fact that water is delivered to homes and waste is carried away, the fact that a road leads right to our doorsteps, cell phones, books, TV, video games, cars and the Internet.

Everything we enjoy in our lives, even the very democracy we cherish is rooted in the public schools. Democracy may be protected by police and soldiers; it may be outlined by politicians; but it is rooted and nurtured in the schools.

Each of us will make his or her own choice about future levy votes, but, as we consider the direct effect public schools have on our lives, as we try to measure their worth in terms of dollars and cents, we need to be sure to clearly define exactly what we are getting for our buck.

Dana Keller