To paraphrase a Beatles song, Kent is in my ears and in my eyes. I grew up there; we moved to Kent when I was in the 8th grade. I attended Franklin Elementary School for one year, Kent State University High School for four years and several years on and off at Kent State University. I got married while in Kent, brought children into the world in Kent and began my magazine publishing career while in Kent.
My mother still boasts a Kent mailing address and depends on the Kent community for services such as doctor, dental and eye care. She frequents the new Kent Free Library and likes the food fare in Acorn Alley. In October 2013 my KSU High School class is celebrating a reunion at one of the new hotels which are springing up downtown.
In the ‘60s, when the last major revamping of Kent took place, I covered City Council meetings for local radio station WKNT. That was when the Kent’s deep-thinkers decided to bisect the city with Haymaker Parkway to make it easier to get from one side of town to the other. To me, that move changed the entire city by isolating the downtown from the KSU campus and, as a result, many of the local stores just dried up. That seems to have been the unintended consequence to chopping the town in half.
A new redevelopment is underway now, one that brings Kent’s downtown into contact not only with the university campus, but also with the rest of the town. This redevelopment not only includes a hotel and conference center, but a second Acorn Alley featuring little shops and businesses that cater to the local community.
Back when KSU had modest enrollment, it wasn’t all that important to local folks to cater to the students. Now with enrollment far exceeding the city’s non-student population, it seems appropriate that Kent be made whole again.
I don’t know what my life would have been like had my parents not moved to Kent when they did. I don’t know if I would’ve been the first in my family to go to college. Growing up in Kent was a “Happy Days” experience not found very often in today’s society, and I’m thankful for this very important place in my ears and in my eyes — and in my heart.
If you’re reading this November issue before Election Day: Hang on, it’ll be over soon. However, I have to urge all of you to vote for your local school levy.
I can’t understand how people can complain about the United States ranking 25th in math and 17th in basic sciences when many of those same people consistently vote against school levies. How can this country turn out first-rate scholars, scientists and teachers if students are rebuffed at every turn by a lack of funding for teachers, for books, for school facilities and for the very environment that expects children to excel?
Education has become a political issue, when it shouldn’t be. There’s no room in our democracy for pitting teacher against teacher, student against teacher and the taxpayers against teachers. The way that our schools are funded through taxes on homeowners is not only unconstitutional (proclaimed so by the Ohio Supreme Court since 1995) but unfair – but for now, that’s how it’s done.
Vote for your local school levy even though you don’t have children in school, even if you want to send a message to Columbus, even if you can’t afford it. You may just be funding the next Nobel Prize winner or, by voting against the levy, setting that same child up for a life of crime — maybe even against you. Talk about your just desserts.
Don Baker, Jr., Publisher