ELECTION DAY is one of those days that every parent should have circled on his or her calendar because it’s one of the most important days for your kids, whether you know it or not.
You do want to make sure that kids aren’t being dragged down the street for several blocks, right?
I guess I should explain what I mean by that.
For most of the 20-plus years I’ve been a journalist I’ve covered two things: education and politics.
Because I started out doing a weekly column on schools from inside the classroom, I didn’t know just how connected education and politics were at first. When you’re in classrooms watching the faces of engaged kids and hardworking teachers, the goings on in the district administration building don’t come up a lot.
But when I left that job and took one where I covered not only what went on in the classroom, but how it came to be, I saw that that politics and education were a lot closer than I thought.
I also saw that the people who were really good at either politics or education weren’t all that well versed on how the other one worked. That doesn’t make a lot of sense when you consider that most of our educational policy gets put together by politicians.
Vote now … and here’s why
The best analogy I came up with to understand this whole thing ultimately was one from my own childhood. I was the fifth of five kids and it was usually the responsibility of one of my older brothers or sisters to hold my hand when we were walking somewhere.
Because they were bigger than me, and could walk faster, my little legs couldn’t always keep up. I’d fall and get dragged along the sidewalk a little. My knees would get skinned and I’d cry. They didn’t mean to hurt me. It was just the laws of physics.
My parents didn’t see it that way. All they saw was my older sibling walking too fast, my scraped knees and my tears.
So my parents would grab me, pick me up from the pavement, clean up the scraped knees, and tell my sibling, “Stop dragging your little sister! You know she can’t walk as fast as you can! You’re supposed to protect her!”
Now you’re probably asking what all of this has to do with voting and why parents should have Election Day circled on their calendar.
Well, I’ll tell you.
There are a lot of people representing the Big Kid (politics) that want you to entrust them with the Little Kid (education). They’re asking you, the Parent, to give them the hand of, well, your child.
It’s your job to make sure that the Big Kid doesn’t drag the Little Kid along the sidewalk…And because the Little Kid in this scenario represents actual children who aren’t old enough to vote, it’s a job that needs to be taken seriously because they’re counting on it.
When you go to the polls, that’s the equivalent of looking out the window and seeing that you need to get your kid off of the ground. That’s an important starting point. You can’t see that the skinned knees get Neosporin and a Band-Aid if you don’t know they’ve been scraped.
Vote now … or pay later
I’ve spent much of this campaign season hanging out with the folks who want to run the Commonwealth as your Governor. Everyone from incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett to the Democrats Final Four—former Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf, State Treasurer Rob McCord, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz and former Environmental Protection Agency aide Katie McGinty—has been talking about how they’ll improve education, especially when it comes to funding it.
As someone whose teaching job in an alternative program got cut due to budget cuts here in Philadelphia, I know that something needs to be done.
Right now, according to the Philadelphia-based education think tank Public Citizens for Children and Youth, there are 16 school districts in deep financial trouble here in the Commonwealth. Suburban legislators, legislators who used to see this as only a city problem, are now seeing that the current way we fund schools here in Pennsylvania doesn’t work for anyone.
The Democratic candidates are calling for a tax on businesses extracting natural gas from our Marcellus Shale regions. Gov. Corbett has added more education funding to the budget. Will it be enough to keep districts like Philadelphia from having to lay off 1,000 more personnel, a move that will lead to teachers having to teach to as many as 41 kids in a class?
And what do the legislators who will ultimately be asked to weigh in from a lawmaking standpoint have to say? What plans do they have to keep Education from needing knee replacement surgery because it’s been dragged a mile down a harsh sidewalk?
Vote now … it’s up to you
By voting, you make sure that the people who want the responsibility of taking care of your “child” do a good job. Voting also allows you to say, as a parent, “Hey! You’re not protecting my kid! You’re dragging him! I’m gonna stop you!”
No one can afford to stand by and let the Big Kid drag the Little Kid around anymore. If that continues to be allowed to happen, the Little Kid is going to get seriously and permanently hurt.
It’s time for everyone to be the Parent.
Featured photo: Democratic gubernatorial candidates at a forum co-sponsored by PABJ and WURD radio. Left to right, State Treasurer Rob McCord, former Environmental Protection Agency aide Katie McGinty, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, former Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf (Photo by Bill Foster).
Denise Clay is a journalist and adjunct professor. She is active in the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists.