I know this election season has been an unusual and particularly contentious one. The near-constant arguing, name-calling and just general melee of the last presidential debate certainly seemed like an invitation to check out from the whole debacle.
Especially when most of us are stressed out and overwhelmed enough with the current state of hybrid/distance schooling and the insane juggling of knives that finding work-life balance has become. For those of you who have already mailed in your ballots, I applaud you. I moved to a new state and wasn’t able to meet the deadlines, so I will cast my ballot in-person on Election Day. For those of you who remain undecided, or perhaps uninspired to engage in the electoral process (as historically nearly half of eligible voters abstain from voting during a normal election year), I want to share a few other reasons to vote that may hit a bit closer to home.
Most of the media attention this season has focused on the presidential election, naturally. But there are a lot of other positions on our ballots, and whoever fills those roles will have a significant impact on education. Here are some to look out for:
Members of Congress--Senators and representatives, who similar to the presidential ticket often receive significant media attention, have influence over federal budget lines and programs like IDEA, which supports students with disabilities, and Title 1, which supports low-income schools, and legislation that affects all school districts like ESSA.
State Legislators--these folks can create, vote, and/or block legislation that could support or reduce educator’s rights, cut budgets, or shift priorities on issues like standards and testing.
Governors--through their executive orders, appointments, budgets, and legislative proposals, Governors play a dramatic role shaping education in our states; often creating or changing education policies and programs, educators should be paying close attention to governors’ public school agendas.
State Attorney General--a state attorney general has the ability to create task forces that investigate predatory practices, or school safety and testing; s/he can uphold laws that protect educators’ and students’ rights. You certainly want the right state attorney general in your corner!
School Board Members--this group hold a tremendous amount of sway over decisions that impact teachers’ day to day lives; they can hire and fire administrators, they can set salaries, approve or deny budgets or tools adoptions, and more.
So, if you are on the fence about voting because of the presidential cacophony, please consider stepping into that ballot box to make sure you have a say for some of the other positions that need to be filled on your ticket. The future of public education depends on it!
Branching Minds’ mission is to empower all educators to effectively, efficiently, and equitably support the holistic needs of their students; and to create a path to academic and personal success for every learner.
We are a team of seasoned educators, learning scientists and technologists with a proven track record of supporting hundreds of K-12 school districts. We are uniquely positioned as a district/school intervention management system to bring together all the aspects of RTI/MTSS to achieve fidelity, and make MTSS/RTI best practices practicable for both teachers and administrators.
Maya is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Branching Minds, where she focuses on building partnerships with districts and product design. She has spent 17 years working with children, youth, and adults as an educator in various capacities both inside and outside of the school system. She has previously taught young children ages 2-3, and students in grades 2-4 in New York City. Maya has also taught English and Mathematics internationally to children, teenagers, and adults in Istanbul, Turkey, and has written math curriculum in Jerusalem, Israel. She led youth advocacy groups in Pennsylvania and directed after-school programs in California, Florida, and New York. She has also tutored students with a broad range of learning needs, from kindergarteners to college students. Ms. Gat received her M.S. in Childhood and Early Childhood Education from Sarah Lawrence College. She also holds a B.A. in Urban Studies and Fine Arts from the University of Pennsylvania.