One of the goals of the Texas Educators Vote initiative is to engage educators at all levels in registering to vote and voting in support of the more than 5.4 million Texas public schoolchildren they serve every day. Nowhere has an individual stepped forward toward that goal better than John Kuhn, superintendent of Mineral Wells ISD. John has been an active and outspoken advocate for children and has delivered speeches at numerous events across Texas and across the country. His efforts have been acknowledged by no less than Diane Ravitch, the founder of the Network for Public Education and one of the foremost advocates for public education, who has called him one of the “8 Powerful Voices in Defense of Public Education”.
While he may seek to downplay his personal impact, John’s messages are landing with educators and others across the country. In fact, a recent 2-minute video in which he highlighted the stark differences in educational opportunities for two neighboring districts has now been viewed by almost 2 million people … 2 million! If you have not seen his video titled “2 School Districts, 1 Ugly Truth”, click here.
John is not alone in his leadership and efforts to engage those within his district and within his community. In fact, there are numerous superintendents across the state who have had a similar impact on their districts and, ultimately, the students in their district. But his contributions are noteworthy given the broad dissemination of his message. He clearly has shown the courage to speak up and to be heard.
In his powerful video, John speaks about the disparity in funding per student and how that leads to larger class sizes, fewer programs and fewer resources to support the needs of kids. He talks about the impact of standardized tests and the “one size fits all” model. Perhaps his most impactful quote is that, “The greatest education malpractice in the US happens in the statehouse, not the schoolhouse”, calling for all those who make decisions about public education to be held accountable for the choices they make.
The reality is that none of those are held accountable except through the process of voting. And that is what he and others are working feverishly to impact. Educators have not generally turned out to vote but with the impact of messages like John’s, they are coming together and they, along with other public education advocates, have the opportunity to truly change actions and attitudes in the statehouse.
The grassroots movement to advocate for our public schools, both in Texas and nationwide, depends heavily on the passion and commitment of individuals like John Kuhn, people who have the courage to focus not on personal agendas as some in Austin seem to do, but on the needs of every child in every classroom. John continues to deliver his message and it is his courage and conviction that should serve as motivation for all of us to make education a priority. Are you listening, Austin?