Regardless the time of year, whether there is an upcoming election or not, teachers have a responsibility to engage the politicians that represent them at the various levels of government – local, state and federal.
No matter the level of government a person serves at, he or she is a representative of the people. So long as you live in the district the board member, the legislator or the senator represent, you are one of those people represented. Keep that in mind, always. Make sure you know the names of your politicians. Become aware of your politicians’ standings – both what they go on record saying and what their voting history says. It is your responsibility to make sure that your local board member and state and federal senators and representatives are knowledgeable about what matters to you and your students. Be in contact with them to keep them up to date on what is happening with your school and those around you. Make sure they know how their decisions affects you, your family, your school and your students.
Some tips to help you become politically responsible:
- Know the names of your local board members, state senators and legislators and federal senators and legislators.
- Contact your politicians to introduce yourself. They need to know who they represent.
- Email them frequently – not every day as you don’t want to be a nag – but frequently. Let them know the good things that are happening within your school.
- Educate yourself on candidates’ positions and current politicians’ records.
These are simple steps towards becoming politically aware and responsible. Take them, regardless of your current state of satisfaction.
While you may not be satisfied with the results of your state’s primary elections (I’m not), hopefully you can at least acknowledge that you voted. Whether or not we end up with the candidate we believe is the best for the job, we have a responsibility as teachers and citizens to get to the polls to vote. We have the responsibility to encourage everyone around us to vote as well – we are teachers, after all.
The senate district I reside in spans three counties in the southeast corner of my state. These three counties contain four towns with a population near 10,000 as well as a number of other small towns with a few thousand people each. Let’s assume there are ten small towns with 2,000 people each. That’s 20,000 people, right?! Add that to the 40,000 from the four semi-large towns and we get 60,000 right?! Now, let’s assume that a percentage of this population is under the voting age and rule out 20,000 people. That leaves approximately 40,000 people across three counties left with the ability and responsibility to vote. Now, back to the senate race in my district – the two candidates opposing each other together netted less that 10,000 votes combined. That is less that 25 percent of the population turning out to vote.
One sincerely hopes that none of those people in the 75 percent that opted not to vote don’t feel as though they have the right to complain about the politicians elected. That right ought to be reserved for only those that bother to vote.
VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!
Fellow teachers, we are all acutely aware how much of a role the political landscape plays in schools. I don’t have to tell you how adequate funding and support from the state government – from governors to senators to legislators – is essential to each and every thing that we do for students. For this reason, I encourage you to VOTE in tomorrow’s primary elections.
While tomorrow’s elections are only the primaries, in many cases election results are in large decided tomorrow due to lack of opposition. For example, my district’s senate primary winner claims the seat in the state government. For this reason, I encourage you to VOTE tomorrow.
Plain and simple, do yourself, your fellow teacher, your school and most importantly your students a favor with the act of voting tomorrow.