by Ashley Muscarella, NEA Student Program Chair
We turned out to the polls, we voted, we fulfilled our civic duty. According to different polls, 18 – 22 percent of millennial voters turned out and voted.
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More than 60 percent of millennials voted for a presidential candidate who believes in the promise of public education, that every child deserves a high quality education regardless of her or his ZIP CODE, the amount of money his or her parents make, or the narrative that society has prescribed. We voted for a candidate who believes that educators shape, influence and inspire our students. We cast our ballot for a candidate who believes our students are the future of our country.
The results from the presidential election did not produce a victory for the candidate in whom we put our faith. However, the election results are a beginning, not an end.
If you believed in a candidate or party’s platform, it means you see promise of change, a promise in our future. We might have a different approach on delivering that promise, but we’re not so different. We want what is best for our future.
This is why it is no longer time to agonize; it is time to organize.
The values and the ideals we believe in were not destroyed and they cannot be eliminated. Our voice is not going anywhere.
The change we believe in will happen. The question is when?
The answer to that question is now.
More than ever, it is time for us to hold our elected officials accountable. To make sure the policy makers who were elected to represent us reflect our interests and enact policies that ensure a bright future for our country.
We need to be at the forefront of change and be active participants in the political process. Instead of waiting for things to happen to us, we need change to occur because of us. As aspiring educators and educators already in the classroom and in schools, we need to be steadfast advocates for what we believe.
We have issues coming down the line that are going to affect us and our students: upholding the promise of a quality public education for every student, college affordability, resources for our classrooms, just to name a few.
President-elect Trump barely mentioned public education while campaigning, however, when it was mentioned, the focus was on school choice, for-profit charter schools and private school vouchers. He promised to wipe out the federal role in public education and take $20 billion from federal education funding for vouchers. His plan centers on diverting taxpayer funds from public schools to the private sector instead of equipping all students for success and closing opportunity gaps.
It’s important to remember that much of the modern role of the federal government in public education was born out of necessity to address massive education disparities at the state and local levels. We cannot abandon this responsibility. As aspiring educators, we are inheriting this promise to our students — to our future.
This is a call to action. We are the present. We are the future. We have the opportunity to secure the future for our students, today.
Stand up for what you believe, make your voice heard, and fight for our students and the promise of public education.