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Voting for Education is Not Enough

Amethyst Hinton Sainz Current Affairs, Education, Education Policy

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By the time you read this, it is possible that the election will be decided, and the knotted ball of emotion in my stomach will have blossomed into one form or another of wildly flowing feeling.

Most of that will be determined by the outcome of the presidential election, but I am also curious to see how state and local races turn out in Arizona, not to mention budget overrides. After the robust public debate surrounding Proposition 123 last spring(using the state land trust to temporarily boost education spending and settle a lawsuit), I am anxious to see if Arizonans voted for education this fall. I hope they did, but I am not sure most people are well informed about the issues and agendas.

Many candidates and commentators have mentioned the deep divides in our country that this election season has only gouged deeper. Maybe I am overly optimistic, but is it possible that public education is a cause that can unite us? If we use the Proposition 123 vote as a measure, we can see that it was extremely close. But I’ll tell you what: There were passionate public school advocates and involved citizens on both sides of that vote. Most of the people I debated with online were friends who wanted a secure state with well-educated citizens. We were all passionate, but had come to different conclusions about what measures would best serve the children (and adults) of our state. However, rather than create rancor after the election, I felt that a useful dialogue was begun, and continued after election day.

If you voted (or are voting today) for education, thank you.

If you vote for edu01cation, though, don’t let your civic efforts stop there. Education makes up a large percentage of the state budget, and rightly so, but that also means that in hard times, education is cut, and in good times, that funding is often only partially restored. And meanwhile policy is often made for highly political reasons without concern for the majority will.

Voting for education is only the first step. The next step is to pay attention. Read the news, watch the votes our leaders make on issues, check out the school board minutes, or even attend a meeting. And keep the pressure on at the state and local level.

We all benefit or lose based on the success of our public education system, whether or not your own children utilize it.

Election Day will be an emotional one. But afterward, get to work. Maybe I’ll see you out there! 

 

I currently teach English Language Development at Rhodes Junior High in Mesa Public Schools. I love seeing the incredible growth in my students and being an advocate for them. I am a National Board Certified Teacher in Adolescent and Young Adult English Language Arts. Before this position I taught high school English in Arizona for 20 years. My alma maters are Blue Ridge High School and the University of Arizona. My bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Philosophy led me toward the College of Education, and I soon realized that the creative challenges of teaching would fuel me throughout my career. My love of language, literature and culture led me to the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College for my masters in English Literature. I am a fellow with the Southern Arizona Writing Project, and that professional development along with, later, the National Board process, has been the most influential and transformative learning for me. I enjoy teaching students across the spectrum of academic ability, and keeping up with new possibilities for technology in education, as well as exploring more topics in STEM. In recent years, much of my professional development has focused on teacher leadership, but I feel like I am still searching for exactly what that means for me. I live in Mesa, Arizona with my family. I enjoy them, as well as my vegetable garden, our backyard chickens, our dachshund Roxy, reading, writing, cooking (but not doing dishes), hiking and camping, and travel, among other things.

  • Danielle Brown

    Amethyst this is a great post for election day! I appreciate the call to action for those that vote for education and believe in the power of education. After the votes have come in, it appears many districts have had bonds/overrides pass!

    Thanks for sharing we have to do more than just vote for education, but that we also must get involved!

  • Lisa Moberg

    “…in hard times, education is cut, and in good times, that funding is often only partially restored.” So true for Arizona! We need to dig deeper to find effective ways to persuade our politicians to fully restore it!