Monday, May 9, 2016

Voting – Our Right and Responsibility

We have reached the time of year when we will once again have the opportunity to vote for the candidate of our choice.  In fact, many school board and municipal races were decided on May 7.  What is important, however, is not the opportunity itself but whether we exercise the right to vote.  Sadly, too few of us actually find our way to the polls to cast our votes.  But there may not be a more important time for public education than right now.

Educators are among those who traditionally have very low turnout numbers and there are a number of movements across the state designed to change that.  I have been involved with the Texas Association of Community Schools (TACS), an organization that is leading the charge to change the culture of engagement and to not only encourage educators to vote but to also provide information to educators that will enable the educator to make an informed decision.  Without specifically endorsing any one particular candidate, TACS, through a number of advocacy groups, is providing information relative to candidates’ position on public education.

What happens in the classroom, whether relating to accountability and testing, curriculum, or any other of the myriad of issues and opportunities, is largely a function of decisions made by elected officials, including the legislature and State Board of Education.  It is not enough for an educator or citizen to have an opinion on these topics; the requirement is that everyone demonstrate their opinion and commitment to their own values and beliefs by exercising the right to vote.

I recently read a Facebook post written by a 17 year old Frisco ISD student.  Yes, a 17 year old, someone who is not even eligible to vote but recognizes the importance of the voting process as part of our democratic society.  In her post, found here, she offers a perspective that should cause all of us to pause and reflect.  If a 17 year old feels this strongly about the importance and impact of voting, why should we not view this in the same light?

The bottom line is that the primary elections on May 24 will, in many cases, set the tone for discussions in the 85th Legislature and at SBOE meetings.  Whether you are an educator or serve in some other capacity, please take the time to understand the candidates’ position and specifically look at their position on public education.  Let’s set a tone that will Make Education a Priority.  The nearly 5.3 million children in our public education system are looking to you and to all of us to be responsible citizens who are responsive to their needs.

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