Driving through my town on this crisp Fall morning I noticed a sign for a man who is running for School board among all the other signs. Below his name was typed “The Conservative Choice”. Now this stuck out at me because we all know that we are a two-party system. We have been a two-party system for hundreds of years, even though some people wish there were a third-party choice, the forefathers of this country set up this country based on two parties. Of course life was different back then. The other reason that this stuck out to me was because no one else had listed on their signs what “party” they are in. So the question that crossed my mind this morning is, where do conservatism and liberalism fit into education? The answer to that question is that they don’t fit. Follow my thought process. In education, you have children who come to school to get an education. They don’t care if their teacher is a democrat or a republican, they just care that their teacher is there and prepared to teach them and that he or she is nice to them everyday. When it comes to a school board, it doesn’t matter what the political affiliation is for the person, it matters that the person is going to do what is appropriate for each and every student in their district and keep this thought in mind as they make their decisions based on the recommendation from the School District. In today’s political climate, the rational person’s view that if you are conservative, that means that you are prepared to cut whatever no matter the effect that it has on families and if you are liberal, you think about all and do what is necessary to make sure that others are a success and can take part in the American dream. Others thinks that each word is a dirty word and should never be uttered. There are two different visions right? Right. So in that vision, where do students fit into your vision and my vision? Students and families are the most important part of the equation that is often left out.
When we are thinking about school, there are nuts and bolts that parents don’t get or understand. Let me explain. When a school board writes a budget, the money has to come from somewhere correct? The State of South Carolina sends that money and that money often solely comes from the Federal Government. There are areas of the State that do not get a large amount of money and with Act 388 in existence, there are school districts in this state that have had to cut back in areas that they have never had to cut before because property taxes no longer go to help support schools, it’s supposed to be sales tax. What happens if you live in an area that doesn’t make a lot of money in sales tax, you get little money. So when you have schools that get little money have to count pennies, education takes a hit, books are not purchased, teachers are laid off, and students take the hit. Class sizes go up, necessary purchases go down, and you have teachers asking for paper towels, toilet paper, and hand soap instead of it being provided. Basic items correct? Correct.
So what is the solution? It’s not being conservative, it’s being liberal. It’s being a human being and realizing that when you were in school, someone had to make the tough choices for you, the parent, to get through school and become a success on the other side. It baffles me how doctors, lawyers, and business men and women can run for office, get in there, turn their faces away from education. Many people in this state did not attend South Carolina Public Schools, I did, and I am often offended by the lack of compassion to the effective teachers that are on the ground doing their best work to ensure that our kids learn and become taxing paying citizens. If you have an effective teacher, you have an effective student, thus you have an engaged parent. My daughter’s math teacher is a prime example. When she sees her struggling, she sits with her at lunch when she should be digesting her own food to help her better understand what has been taught. She doesn’t have to do this. This is an effective teacher. We have to support that. We have to support effective teachers so that they can go on and affect the lives of more students. The kid next to you may wanna play in the NFL, someone has to encourage that dream. The kid in the library you saw reading their biology book, he or she may want to be a doctor, someone has to encourage that dream. The cashier that checked you out may want to one day be an accountant, someone has to encourage that dream. Educators are innovators of encouragement and many of the students that are in school today do not get that encouragement from their parents. Their parents are doing just enough to get by.
So when you get ready to go to the polls to vote, when you get ready to cast your ballot, when you think of the school board, think about the qualities that you want in a person. By all means research the candidate and if you can, talk to them. I have found that sometimes the candidate just wants to get into politics and they have no clue how the process works. They will make promises that they can not follow through with. Know what your issues are and ask them about it. If you feel that there should be cameras in Special Needs classrooms, ask them what their position is. If you feel that there should be less money spent on buying new activity buses, find out where they stand on that. If you feel that there should be more money put into student base cost, find out where they stand. Don’t just stop there though, feel free to find out where your State Legislator stands and call them on it. Our kids can only be successful if we take conservatism and liberalism out of the equation. Kids don’t vote, they don’t have a party line, but you know what, their parents vote, and parents, we need to do what is appropriate for our kids and vote for individuals that are going to do the job for our children.