LETTER: Don’t let Big Oil hold our students hostage

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DEAR EDITOR: As SB 181 winds its way through our state legislature there is a lot of rhetoric about how regulating the oil and gas industry could hurt schools.

As a classroom teacher in Aurora, my response is “do not hold our students hostage.” The argument that regulating oil and gas will hurt schools is downright bully behavior. I teach my students to stand up to bullies and I must model this for them.

We can fund our schools without bowing down to an industry that is polluting our air and water. Yes, schools need tax revenue for their funding. But, more importantly, students need clean air and water so they are healthy for each school day. Also, their families need safe worksites so they can come home to read with their children every night.

In Aurora, oil and gas is not a top-twenty employer. This shows that we already have a diverse economy in our city. A key component to increasing school funding is a thriving economy with a diverse tax base.

As a city we should never be dependent on a single industry for our tax revenue; that would be foolish. If local control passes, it will not be the end of local tax revenue.

For example, if a piece of land is not permitted for oil and gas activity then another business may use that land. This new business will then pay their property taxes to fund our schools.

As a teacher and a resident I want healthy communities, along with well-funded schools. Children living near oil and gas sites have been shown to have higher rates of asthma. Students with asthma miss more school than their peers. Students who miss more school struggle to keep up with grade level content and are at higher risk for dropping out before graduating from high school. Our children deserve to grow up in a city and state that supports their physical health and well being along with their education.

Do not let the oil and gas industry hold our students hostage. Our students deserve better!

— Linnea Reed-Ellis, Aurora, v