Last week, Ross Ramsey, co-founder and executive editor of the Texas Tribune, published an article titled “Earlyomens of a very conservative GOP primary”. If you have not read it, I encourage you to do so by either clicking on the title above or by clicking here. The bottom line from his standpoint is that, since all statewide office holders (all Republican) have announced plans to seek reelection, the cascade impact of this makes it easier for what he termed as “full throated” conservatives to win election in down-ballot races. He further states that one of the reasons that this is the case is that these individuals are elected by a “reliable” group of conservative voters, individuals who cast a ballot in most elections.
That’s where the opportunity now opens up for educators and others concerned about the future of public education in the State of Texas. It’s well documented that many in this pro-public education group have not voted on a consistent basis. But with very low voter turnout in Texas, initiatives that will get public education supporters to the ballot box may very well sway the outcome of races across the state. And that is good news for the more than 5.3 million public education students who rely on their elected officials to support them.
While certainly not limited to only two such initiatives, the Texas Educators Vote initiative and a renewed push by superintendents to register eligible high school students can have a dramatic impact on primary day and on Election Day. Once registered, it’s critical that the push to actually vote becomes a focal point and there are numerous groups focusing on that effort as well. And that’s where “policy over party” comes into play.
Eligible voters, and especially the public education advocates and educators in the upcoming primary and general elections, need to invest time in understanding the platforms of candidates, regardless of the candidate’s party affiliation. If we fail to do so or even if we have a preferred candidate but don’t exercise our right to vote, those most impacted are the kids in the classroom. That’s not fair to them or to the future of our state. All of us must understand the criticality of upcoming elections and come together as a group to elect those who will make education a priority. Our students are watching and counting on us.