I am 17 years old, a senior at Bonners Ferry High School.
Many people where I live believe that government has grown too large and needs to be trimmed up. I believe this to an extent. One government policy that I believe has gone too far is the Endangered Species Act. The Kootenai River sturgeon was recently named an endangered species.
This has given the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authority over the Kootenai River that flows through our valley. The department raises the river based on an unproven theory that it will help save the fish. This made some farm land too saturated with water to yield any crop. The rotten part is that the government will not compensate for these losses.
Like me, many Boundary County residents think that the government tells us too much how to run our lives. But recently, my life and the lives of all county high school students were adversely affected by this anti-government attitude, when county voters turned down a school bond.
Our school was built in 1969 with a maximum capacity of 450 students. Our school now enrolls 564 students and uses every room available. Two of my classes are converted, windowless storage rooms; and our athletic director’s office is a reconditioned janitor’s closet.
I don’t sympathize with the people who say the reason they didn’t vote yes is that their children are not in school and they do not want more taxes. I realize property tax on farmers is hard and a different means of acquiring revenue must be looked at; but it is a sacrifice we all must make to educate the generation that will run the world.
The worst no-voters are the residents with the twisted views on the public school system. One letter-to-the-editor writer voted no because he believed some of the bond money would be used to give the superintendent a raise. Others believe that the public schools denigrate religion and teach false history, which is far from the truth.
I wish some people would understand that just because something is “public” doesn’t mean it’s evil.
Despite my disappointment over the school bond, I am hopeful for the future. My generation was raised on cynicism about government, but I believe they will be much more politically involved because they have seen firsthand how government decisions affect lives. About 10 of my friends have had to move away from Bonners Ferry in the past six years because their parents lost jobs in the timber industry. We should not allow problems in our government to discourage us. It is when they do, that we should stand up and speak out.
President Reagan remains one of my favorite presidents. Some of his policies may have been questionable but he loved America. Whenever he spoke of her, his eyes went misty. Reagan believed that we were not like any other country, that God put us in a special place with a special job to lead the forces of good. I agree.
I hope to major in pre-med and minor in political science next year at Brigham Young University. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll return to Idaho and run for Boundary County Commissioner.