Educators Must Prioritize Voting
The November 2022 midterm election is right around the corner. While candidates for presidential office are not on the ballot in a mid-term election such as this, and some voters across the nation may not get to cast a vote for U.S. Senate on their ballot, there are many important offices up for election that have a significant impact on the teaching profession and public education as a whole. These offices include but are not limited to Governor, Lt. Governor, State Senator, and other important state and local offices. The reality is that for teachers or other supporters of public education, “down ballot” elected offices have a much more significant impact on local public schools than presidential or other federal races. Unfortunately, on average only about 50% of teachers cast their votes during elections.
Here are a few reasons why teachers need to prioritize voting in every election:
- In most states, the majority of funding for schools is set by the state legislature. The amount of dollars a school district receives from federal sources is much smaller. When teachers choose not to vote, state legislators are less likely to hold public education issues or interests up as a major issue when seeking re-election or performing their legislative duties at the state legislature.
- During the legislative session, legislators are much more likely to authentically listen to teacher concerns when a higher percentage turn out to vote. Lawmakers will most certainly pay closer attention to constituencies (or voter groups) they know consistently show up to the polls in large numbers to cast their ballots.
- Following each state legislative session, there will be a new set of laws governing public education that is truly the size of a New York City phone book. All items from school funding, curriculum and instruction, special education, school security, student mental health and well-being, speech in the classroom, parent involvement in schools, and much more will be covered by these changes to the law. When teachers don’t turn out to vote, they are missing opportunities to have their voices heard during the lawmaking process.
- Voting will model to students the importance of exercising their civic duty when eligible. Simply wearing the “I voted” sticker on Election Day will send a signal to young learners that being engaged in elections matters, imparting to them the importance of voting.
Teachers can be a very powerful voting bloc if each of them made a concerted effort to prioritize casting their vote during not just general elections, but also primary elections in their respective states. If all teachers voted, they would be a force to be reckoned with and shift the political dialogue and the policymaking priorities of federal, state and local elected leaders. I want to note that as an educator myself, I have never told fellow educators who they should vote for, but rather, simply that they should vote. Educators should always communicate the importance of voting over the importance of voting for a certain candidate or political party. I encourage all teachers to make plans to get out and vote in November 2022.