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Editorial: Winning the lottery

by Josh Kramer

Several years back, I heard former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan explain our good fortune to a crowded room. As Americans, each of us has been gifted something quite rare – nearly as rare as winning the lottery.

Sen. Dorgan pointed out that of the 6.5 billion people on Earth, merely 329 million of them live in the United States. The odds of being born in the United States are rare. I’ll let you do the math.

Nearly half of the world population lives on less than $2.50 a day, and more than 25 percent still live without electricity. Yes, we did win the so-called lottery and are extremely fortunate to call the United States home. The age-old adage, “geography is destiny,” holds true.

But on a global scale, through the advancement of technology, deployment of vital infrastructure and the curiosity of the human spirit, more and more people in the developing world are improving their odds and increasing their educational attainment.

Prioritizing education has long been the aim in the United States, working toward a place where one’s ZIP code does not determine the quality of his/her education. Electric cooperatives have supported that end, with their solid track record of backing work, policies and investments that improve access and quality of life for rural people.

However, I continue to see educational opportunity, in North Dakota at least, has less to do with place and more to do with people. A team of education champions makes our schools and education system work. It’s the school cooks, teachers, administrators, coaches, students, parents, school board members, volunteers, policymakers and taxpayers who keep the train on the tracks.

Let’s face it: Access to education is everyone’s concern. As such, it is our job to ensure a quality education and positive school experience is afforded to every child in this country. That means diverse curriculum, safety, compensated professionals, comfortable classrooms, manageable class sizes and healthy food.

We can do better.

There has been no shortage of school bond referendums across North Dakota over the past few years. The needs are out there – in schools big and small.

Our state is blessed with an abundance of resources. Why not invest the fruits of those resources further, putting money into our education system, so that schools can provide our children with the education they deserve? What better legacy could we leave our children?

It has been said that education is the doorway to which people operate effectively within a society and the knowledge behind progression. Let’s agree to progress.

We’ve already won the lottery. Why stop there?

Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of NDAREC. Contact him at