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 education, 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!