What the Election Means for Education
So, let's talk about the election. At this point, it does not matter what side you supported. What matters is the lessons we can take to move forward, and I think my biggest takeaway for education is WE Must DO BETTER!
Let's start with the positive. I live in the state of Georgia, and thankfully Georgia voters made the right decision on what was Amendment 1 on our ballots. The amendment was one to the state constitution that would give the state government the power to intervene in underperforming schools. Our governor's plan was to add these schools than to what he called the Opportunity School District. What does that mean? The state plan was to take those schools over.
Georgia voters realized that politics should have as little say in education as possible. Yes, funding comes from the political battles fought in our legislatures, but more political involvement will never solve an education-related issue. The schools that would have been part of this district have many issues, but the main one is that they struggle mightily to hire and retain good teachers. A state takeover was not going to solve that. If we want to fix these schools, our education community must build them up. We must be willing to go and help our most disadvantaged children. We have to do better to ensure these students success.
The presidential race is a whole different story. Frankly, both sides showed us how important education is, and they we are not doing enough to educate on civic duty and especially not doing enough to curb hate.
One of the saddest things I have sene in the last two days are stories from schools and students where this election has already done drastic damage to our children. I recently attended the Google Innovator Academy with a Colorado principal whose student population has a large population of immigrants. Reading messages from her on how her student and parent community was reacting was truly heartbreaking. No matter what you believe politically, schools have to be a safe-haven for people. It does not matter what they look like, how they got here, or what they believe. We must provide that safe-haven. We must do better.
I have also seen several stories about bullying on the rise and students who are being attacked because of the way they dress or how they look. One story out of a Louisiana University told us of a Muslim student who was attacked by two students who felt the freedom to show their racist tendencies because of our Presidential election. This can not happen. Teachers must stomp out this hate as quickly as possible, and we have a duty to ensure that our students know bullying is not ok. They may not be getting that same message at home. We have to do better.
As a former Social Studies teacher, this election also just made me sad. We live in an age where reality stars like the Kardashians rule, and in many ways, we deserve to have a reality star president. The sense I get is that many Americans did not take this election with the seriousness it deserved. They did not understand the gravity that comes with the Presidency and all of work that comes with that office. No matter which side you chose, there are many Americans who did not cast that ballot based on policy decisions. I also think there are many of us who feel a sense of hopelessness over prospects that we only minority effect.
You know how we change this? Education. We have a duty to educate our students on what a President actually does and how they can make a difference. In reality, this election proves we as teachers have not done that well. We must do better!
No matter which side you believe in, it's time for schools and teachers to take the lead. We have to stop hate in it's tracks, and we have to teach our students to look through the weeds and find what is true. We have to teach them to be citizens, and they may not get that from home. It's now obvious that we just did not do good enough for certain generations. We must do better.