As voting day approaches, it is our job as educators to make sure we are ready to vote. Teachers…are you doing your part?
If you’re anything like me, your mailboxes have been filling up lately with all kinds of election materials: Fliers about candidates, postcards asking us to vote on issues, and, most importantly, our ballots.
According to 2014 voting statistics, my home state of Colorado has one of the highest voter turnouts. This is concerning considering only 54% of eligible voters voted in the last election.
Reviewing other years, the stats are just as troubling. Basically, in any given election, only half of the people in my state took the time to fill out their ballot, much less do research on the people and topics up for decision.
These are not new statistics. So, what’s my point?
My point is teachers, especially, need to educate themselves on issues and candidates and then, vote–particularly in this election.
In Jefferson County, the largest school district in the metro Denver area, poor voter turn out in 2013 (only 136,000 out of 400,000 voters voted for school board candidates), led to two years of heated political struggle and a recall measure on this year’s ballot. I can’t help but wonder what the current situation would be like had there had been a larger representation of voters.
Now is our chance to ensure this doesn’t become the future of school districts around my state and the country. In Colorado, 21 districts have at least one school board seat open. Most have two to four. That means a lot of change.
Local School boards have always been influential entities in the way schools do business. Now, with the increasing conflict surrounding educational policies regarding standards and testing, the school boards’ say about what happens in classrooms has become politically charged.
I am not afraid to admit my bias. I believe strongly that those who teach should be the main voice in policy conversations about instructional practices. Because of this, I want to have a say in which elected officials get to participate in those conversations with me.
As you prepare to vote, make sure you seek as much information as you can. Ask yourself the following:
- Which candidates are willing to support innovative thinking and encourage the leadership of teachers?
- Which candidates trust teachers?
- Which candidates acknowledge the importance of their position and approach it with humble dignity as they work to lead school districts towards greatness?
As teachers, we should all care about who influences our classroom. If we don’t, we will end up with school boards who look at classroom instruction as secondary to political agenda.
With two weeks until Election Day, it is time to take on our professional responsibility to be educated on the issues that influence our students and their learning. So, before you throw those fliers away, take time to read up on your local candidates and make sure you cast your vote for the collective success of our schools.
A fellow teacher