According to a report in the Morrison County Record on the Little Falls City Council this week, a discussion took place about giving financial aid to Police Officer Greg Schirmers to help pay for courses he’s taking at a college in Minneapolis. Kate Zak Davis’ response to the situation was as follows:

“The problem I see is that we educate them and then they go elsewhere.”

I’ve heard this complaint many times before. I guess, ideally, if we spend money educating our children (or adults), they should stay here forever and always. It doesn’t matter if we don’t have jobs that hold their interest or are in their field of study or pay well enough to live on, or that young people may want to experience more in the world than the lovely metropolis of Little Falls. It doesn’t matter if there are children who don’t find acceptance here for whatever the reason – be they gay or lesbian, or so wildly creative or liberal that the community can’t provide them with what they need to fulfill their dreams. Nope. We’ve educated them and, by golly, these kids should just quit being ingrates and snubbing us by moving away. Perhaps we could get them to stay if we chained them up in the city garage.

People move. It’s a fact of life. Not only do people move away from Little Falls, some actually move to Little Falls. Hard to believe, I know. But, if you look at the population statistics for the city for the past 40+ years, what you’ll see is a relatively stagnant population, which means that for all those who leave, a fairly equal number are moving in. I found these statistics on the Morrison County Historical Society’s website:

Population of Little Falls:

1960 – 7,551

1970 – 7,467

1980 – 7,250

1990 – 7,232

2000 – 7,719

2005 – 8,139

We lost a little bit between 1960 and 1990, but the population rebounded in 2000. The jump seen in 2005 was due to the annexation of a portion of Belle Prairie Township.

Obviously, people are deciding to move to Little Falls. What if their communities demanded what we do of our children? Stay put, or else! (Or else we’ll whine about paying for your education and try to make you feel guilty about moving.)

Let’s take a broader view of education. It’s not about educating people to stay in one place all their lives. It’s about educating them to be good citizens of the world. If all communities do this, then no matter where people move, all communities will benefit.

Considering this a global pond,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel

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