Josh Kramer

The seeds we sow. That’s the thought that comes to mind as we inch closer to spring and the start of a new growing season.

We are all hoping for a spring of satisfactory moisture, germination and bountiful opportunities for a prosperous year. March is National Agriculture Month, and we can’t say thanks enough to those who contribute to the production and harvesting of the food, fiber and energy resources needed to sustain life across the globe.

As I think more broadly of the seeds we collectively sow, the parent in me immediately thinks of our kids – the next generation. It’s also fitting to thank a distinguished group that helps guide, teach, educate and love our children.

Child care providers, educators, school board members and administrators: your work matters. You, too, sow the seeds of our future.

If the past few years haven’t been hard enough on this group, it is devastating to see an exodus of talented individuals leaving the profession or considering hanging it up. A worrisome number of educators and childhood development professionals are retiring, citing burnout, feeling unappreciated, disrespected and overworked. School board members are exiting boards and opting not to run again, citing hostility, bullying and, in some cases, threats.

As a parent with kids in the school system, I’ll be the first to say I don’t agree with every educational decision made. But, I respect the magnitude of the decisions and those who have the tremendous responsibility of making them.

There are many examples, I’m sure, across school districts and communities – and not just in North Dakota. Maybe we’ve even let our own emotions get the best of us in a disagreement. Or, I’ll bet we all have a story of someone who “took it to” an administrator, teacher or school board member, and wears the incident like a badge of honor.

I understand everyone is entitled to an opinion.

Thankfully, the people of this country have preserved our right to freedom of speech. But on the flip of a coin, have we so easily forgotten there is a human on the receiving end? Does speaking our mind entitle us to the mistreatment of others, of those we may not agree with?

The examples extend beyond the education space. Look toward law enforcement, politics or many other public service sectors. If we continue to condone mistreatment – or fail to look it square in the eyes and recognize it for what it is – who wins? Our children are the first to lose.

We may find that someday in the not-so-distant future, our tank runs out, and good and dedicated people are no longer willing to serve others.

We reap what we sow.

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