You are an educator. All year you have been reading stories about underpaid and under-appreciated educators. You have been watching video clips of angry teachers marching, demonstrating and walking off their jobs to protest low pay and underfunded classrooms and tell politicians they are not going to take it anymore.
You have applauded their courage and empathized with their plight. You have tweeted your own outrage and spent hours expressing your frustration on social media. You have shared your own stories about the extra jobs you have been forced to take to meet family budgets. Maybe you have attended pro-education rallies in your own communities. And you have registered to vote.
You have been engaged, and that is great. But if that is all you do, nothing, absolutely nothing, will change.
Now, you need to vote. You need to vote in large numbers and vote for candidates who truly support public schools and the people who teach and work in them, people like you. You, of course, have a right to vote for whomever you want and for any issue of your choosing, but if you don’t make education your No. 1 issue and vote for legitimate, pro-public education candidates, nothing will change.
You will continue to be underpaid, you will continue taking extra jobs during the school year and you will continue to be angry, frustrated and feeling used.
Education is your livelihood, but maybe another issue is your main political concern. Maybe it is immigration, an issue over which President Trump and many anti-education candidates continue to fan the flames of fear and racism, often with half-truths and lies. Their goal is to confuse and deceive.
I got a campaign flyer from one of those anti-education candidates the other day, spreading fear about immigration but saying not a word about public schools or the needs of educators and students. This candidate was taking the votes of educators for granted or hoping educators would be so discouraged they would not bother to vote.
You may find another issue competing for your vote. But remember this. Per-pupil education spending in Texas is $2,300 per year less than the national average, and teacher pay is $7,300 below the national average. Active educators and retirees struggle with rising health care costs. Many classrooms are overcrowded and under-equipped, students take too many standardized tests, and political ideologues are still trying to rewrite the history and science our kids are taught. None of this will change if Texas educators don’t vote in large numbers and in the best interests of their professions and their students, and that means voting for candidates who make education a priority.
Voting turnout in Texas traditionally has been low, and if educators don’t do their part to change that, anti-public education policies won’t change. You can march, demonstrate and tweet for education all you want, but if you don’t vote for education, you can’t finish the job. Voting is what politicians respect – and fear. Without it, they will keep taking educators for granted.
TSTA-PAC has endorsed candidates of both parties throughout the state on their stands and/or records on education alone. To find out which candidates TSTA has endorsed on your ballot, go to the link below, click on “Customized Ballot” and fill in your home address. Marching, demonstrating and tweeting your outrage may make you feel better. But voting is the only really effective political activity you can perform.