By Dmitriy Synkov
As a language arts teacher, Luke Flynt urges his students to be thoughtful about what they write and say. He has a way with words himself, especially when he’s talking about speaking up for students.
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“It’s important to remember that democracy is not a spectator sport, nor is it a biannual event,” says Flynt, who teaches at Gifford Middle School in Indian River County.
The 2014 midterm elections brought many disappointing results for public education advocates like Flynt, who is wary of what Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election will mean for students across Florida’s public schools. He stresses, however, that the need for educators to represent their students’ interests is just as important now as it was during the election season.
“Voting is an important civic responsibility, but elections are just one small part of the democratic system,” Flynt said. “We also have a tremendous responsibility as education professionals to be in contact with our local and state legislators to speak up for the children who can’t advocate for themselves.”
“The best thing we can do,” says Flynt, “is to make sure that every child, at the earliest stage possible, is put on an equal setting.”
Public education advocates in Florida have their work cut out for them.
“The problem isn’t solely in cuts to public education,” says Flynt, “but the continued impact that homelessness, food insecurity, and childhood poverty have on students’ progress and potential.”
Educators are naturals when it comes to helping elected officials understand what they can do to help protect public schools and the students and families who rely on them. Whether emailing, calling or meeting in person, educators should share their stories and tell decision makers how a particular issue or policy affects their students.
Flynt urges fellow advocates not to fret over who is in office and who isn’t, but instead find ways to work with elected officials for the benefit of kids.
“No matter who is in office, we have to hold legislators accountable. And no matter who is the governor, if he is not hearing from education professionals, then we are not being the voice that our students need us to be.”