Vote: An Educator’s Call To Action

 

Facebook Outrage

I find it interesting what people latch onto and why. Right now, all over Facebook, I am seeing the image of the tweet pictured here. I grabbed this myself from Twitter because I wanted to make sure it was legit. Here’s the link to the tweet. I can see why educators have an emotional response to this particular conservative far-right Republican’s hot take.

It’s demeaning and meant to rile all of us up.

What amazes me though is not the tweet or the fact I’ve seen it a dozen times already on Facebook being shared and shared again. What amazes me is educators and those sharing the tweet commenting about “remember this when you vote.”

Texas Scorecard & Empower Texans

After all this outrage about Michael Quinn Sullivan (MQS), I did a little digging. He is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. This site is the mouthpiece for Empower Texans. If you have been living under a rock in Texas and aren’t familiar with the well-funded efforts of Empower Texans to push Texas politics and politicians further right, you can find out more about this group and where the money comes from here.

Follow all the money dedicated to politicians and groups who aim to defund and privatize public education.

I don’t give two cents about what MQS thinks of me or any other educator. I’ve read enough from Texas Scorecard to know that my beliefs definitely don’t align with his or theirs. What I do care about are all my educator friends and the larger community identifying as Democrats or Republicans who either don’t vote with any regularity or continue to cast votes along party lines because they pledge allegiance to their preferred political party. 

My Voting Journey

I was a straight-ticket (back when that was still allowed) Republican voter for most of my voting life. I also didn’t find out much about who I was voting for beyond the names at the top of the ticket for presidential elections. And since I was a Republican (handed down to me from my family), I just voted for the Republicans. I didn’t vote in local elections mainly because I didn’t even really know about them.

Yes, I had gross voting practices for years that I sorely regret.

It wasn’t until 2016 when faced with the choice to vote for Trump that I had to break away from traditional Republican voting and vote for (gasp) a Democrat.  This kicked off my journey into civic engagement. In 2016, I had to learn about not just the presidential candidate I was voting for, but the other names and elected positions on the ticket. It was also about this time that I actively started getting involved in local politics via school board elections and votes that directly impacted the money management and taxation of the local school district that I work for and that my two children attend school in. While municipal elections are supposed to be non-partisan, we all know that we know the political affiliations of anyone running for office (no matter how much they try and dance around it) and how we let those affiliations affect our voting behaviors.

Political Party Platforms on Public Education

Educators, what do we always tell our students to do?

  • Ask questions.
  • Use quality sources to find out more.
  • Consult multiple perspectives and viewpoints on any issue we are forming an opinion about.
  • Think critically about what we read and hear.

I’ve been learning so much about the political parties in our country. For instance, I recently found and read the 2020 Democratic Party Platform document. I also found and read the 2016 Republican Party Platform document (turns out there is some controversy surrounding why they didn’t adopt a new one in 2020).

Do you know what each party’s platform says about public education?

I do because I isolated the pages for the RNC here and the DNC here. Read both. See what both parties say about their beliefs and practices toward public education. When it comes to voting and candidates at any level, I vote based on their stance on these issues regarding public education. I don’t identify as a Republican or a Democrat anymore. I vote for candidates, not a party. I vote in my own best interests as an educator and as a proponent of public education.

Call to Action

How many politicians at the national, state, and local levels do we vote for without finding out what their position is specifically on all the points their party platform is steering them toward? And do they know what their party platform says about public education? I would bet MQS does, and that is where his tweet and his work at Texas Scorecard and with Empower Texans is coming from.

As educators, and arguably as civically engaged citizens, we must stop tying our votes to a political party.

While the tweet from MQS is absolutely gross, what I find even more gross is educators who don’t vote in local elections. We need to vote for politicians that will fund and prioritize public education at the local, state, and national levels.

We need to latch onto voting.

 

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