Education Activists: What makes them tick?


by Brian Washington

A new poll is shedding light on why education activists volunteer on political campaigns—especially President Obama’s re-election campaign.

The 2012 post-election activist survey went out to about 28,000 educators who volunteered with the Educators for Obama (EFO) program. EFO volunteers worked with Obama for America and/or the NEA to make sure President Obama returned to the White House.

Survey results are still being tabulated and should be complete by next year. However, today, Education Votes is giving you a sneak peek at some of the responses. For example, teachers, education support professionals, and high education faculty gave a wide range of answers when asked to tell what they liked most about volunteering in 2012. Many, like Darlene Hawkey-Cruikshank of Waterford, Wisconsin, said they had to get involved—given what was at stake.

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“This election would have hit not just this country but my immediate and extended family hard if Romney would have won,” said Hawkey-Cruikshank. “I felt he would have damaged this country.”

Jan Boyd, a retired educator from California, stated, “The election was critical to the country and being involved helped me to believe I was doing everything I could to help this important election for so many people. If I wouldn’t have done the most I could, I would have felt partly responsible if Obama lost.  Volunteering made me feel I had done my part.”

Respondents were not shy about sharing what they liked least about volunteering as well.

“In Texas, about the only places where one could wear our “Obama” t-shirts were Austin and Houston’s inner loop,” said Frances Smith, an English/Language Arts teacher from Houston, who said, at times, the campaign got a little challenging.

Smith added, “People were terribly ugly when referring to President Obama here. Anti-Obama bumper stickers were awful.”

Educators are not only some of the most respected messengers in their communities, but are also some of the biggest volunteers with service and charitable organizations. Many shared what motivates them to get involved with these groups as well.

“I’m a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for foster youth,” said retired educator Jan Boyd of Galt, California. “I have always enjoyed helping disadvantaged youth.  All the 30 years I taught school was with incarcerated juveniles and I still like to help those who are most on the edge.”

“I think it makes my community a better place to live,” said Michele Croteau, a classroom teacher from Hampton, New Hampshire. “There are people facing hard times and through our church we have a food pantry, a soup kitchen, and the ability to give clothing and monetary assistance to those in need.”

Survey results are still being tabulated and should be complete by next year. If you want to get the latest news about the education issues that matter to you, click here.

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