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Joyce Burnham, Published November 02 2013

Letter: ‘Let them eat cake’ in school?

‘Let them eat cake.”

Most of us know why this French translation symbolizes careless dismissal of people’s basic needs for food, safety and shelter. In today’s world, we add education to that basic list.

“Let them eat cake,” say some seasonal or disgruntled residents who more than uncaringly laugh off our district’s efforts to repair, renew and renovate Pelican Rapids, Minn., school buildings.

In his essay of 1729, “A Modest Proposal,” the Rev. Jonathan Swift pokes fun at absentee landlords who refuse to see injustices and poverty they have helped create in Irish districts. Swift’s satirical wit proposes eating the Irish babies and children as an economic solution to the problem.

My point? Our district has a core of absentee landlords (seasonal) and even distant/disgruntled residents who only see the bottom line of their taxes. They do not see the young faces behind the school taxes. Instead, they help in hiring an absentee organization that divides the people of our district and willingly exposes our children to danger.

“Let them eat babies – oops – I mean cake.” How many of us have studied the Old Testament only to be shocked by the stories of child sacrifices to the pagan god Moloch? Moloch represents greed. Whose greed? Now, before everyone starts pointing fingers at each other, perhaps we need to go to the New Testament. Surrounding lake properties and agricultural lands form the base of the district’s economy. To those seasonal landowners and disgruntled residents who are spreading misinformation and hate, all I can say is read the New Testament where Christ tells the people: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”

Our district lands are also your lands. Our children are also your children. We could line the roads in and out of Pelican Rapids with billboards of our children’s success stories. How many times have you been at a hospital or clinic and discovered a nurse/doctor from a school district you helped support? How about a dental hygienist or a plumber? Our graduates are even working for you behind the scenes as chemical engineers, electrical linemen, and so much more.

I am sure you can think of many times you have made the connection that a child – now grown – from our Pelican Rapids schools has helped you in some capacity. Education is a great investment.

I want to thank all the seasonal and distant landowners who have the foresight to support the “yes” voters in our community as we look toward repairing, renewing and renovating our district school buildings. You are protecting your land investment and our children.

And I want to thank all those seasonal residents who do volunteer their time in helping our community each summer. Please continue your help in supporting our school district’s “yes” voters. “Yes” voters on Tuesday are making an investment – a good and sure investment – because “yes” voters are also voting “yes” for you.


Burnham is a resident of Pelican Rapids and an English teacher in the school district.