by Brian Washington
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New Hampshire educator Tom Lynch will be on his feet today in Manchester for about 12 hours holding up signs for pro-public education candidates. He’s going to hit polling sites in about five or six different wards and work at least 2-hours in each one.
And he won’t be alone. Lynch, who teaches social studies at Manchester Memorial High School, has a team of about 24 public school volunteers, all members of NEA-New Hampshire, which represents about 16,000 educators statewide. They plan to fan out all across the city to get out the vote for education champions.
“Since we (educators) are trusted members of the community, hopefully, they can convince people to vote for pro-public education candidates,” said Lynch. “It’s important for us to get out there and use our voice, let our fellow citizens of Manchester understand that our budgets over the last six to ten years have been grossly underfunded and those who are going to be hurt the most by this are our students.”
If we can get our pro-public education candidates into elected office, they will make education a priority and that is something that will help our kids.
Educators have targeted several seats on the board of aldermen and local school board. However, the big contest is the city’s mayoral race. Lynch says educators have worked over the last few months to make public education a key campaign issue.
“If you want better schools you’ve got to fight for them,” said Lynch. “And who better than educators are in a position to stand up and say what our students and public schools need? Better us than those who don’t have an education background but think they know best.”
Get-out-the-vote activities for local elections in Manchester actually started several weeks ago. Since then, educators have canvassed door-to-door, stuffed more than 1,200 envelopes, and made over a thousand calls on behalf of endorsed candidates. In September, they sponsored a public forum featuring the mayoral candidates, who took questions from the audience.
Today, in addition to holding up signs at polling places, educators will also provide transportation to the elderly and others who face challenges getting out to vote.
Lynch says the work educators have put in, and will continue to put in right up until the polls close, has created an energy around this election cycle. Educators in Manchester are pulling out all the stops—which, at the end of the day, Lynch hopes will lead to a victory for public school children.
“At this point, I really don’t know what else we could have done,” said Lynch. “I really believe we have done everything possible to find every vote for our endorsed candidates in Manchester.”