Last spring, I heard a panel of educators from West Virginia talk about the walk outs that were the first wave of the Red for Ed movement. They were inspiring in their dedication to students and colleagues and in their determination to set the course of public education in their state on a better path. A quote from one of them stuck with me: “The biggest power we have is at the polls.”
While MEA members are indeed a diverse group, as a member recently wrote in a message to me, and while that is a source of strength for us, I am confident that we are alike in our steadfast belief in the promise of public education and that we are united in our efforts to provide Maine’s students with the education they need and deserve to prepare them to be informed and engaged members of society.
Some of us are more interested in politics than others; some have a strong distaste for the topic and may think, as I have heard jokingly quoted, that “politics” is more like “poly-ticks”—that is, “many bloodsucking, disease-carrying parasites”. But whatever you think of the subject, please understand it is the people whom we elect to offices, at all levels of government, who make many decisions that affect our professions and our students. As I recently heard at an NEA meeting in D.C., “We do not engage in politics for the sake of politics; the only reason we engage in politics is to promote good policy for our students, our schools, and our members.”
So, once again, a few numbers…
26–As I write this, there are only 26 days until Election Day. As you read this, there may be just a couple of days left before you vote, if you haven’t already voted via absentee ballot…
186—The number of Maine legislators—35 in the Senate, 151 in the House—all of them elected or re-elected every two years.
1,927—the number of bills submitted to the 128th Legislature
150—the number of candidates in state races endorsed by your MEA Board of Directors after a committee of MEA members reviewed responses to questions about education, members’ rights, retirement; studied voting records; and conducted interviews. Additionally, NEA endorsed three candidates recommended by MEA in federal races, again, after MEA members reviewed questionnaires and records and held interviews. The endorsements help show where candidates stand on issues that impact our students and our colleagues.
These are turbulent times. But just like when I experienced turbulence on the flight to D.C., we have to hold on, keep our seat belts fastened, and reach our destination—a great public school for every student in Maine. It may be a bumpy ride, but we can—we must!–get there.
As your President, it is my job to do my best to represent all of you and to work hard on behalf of our students and members. It is a privilege to do so, and it is a responsibility I take seriously.
Whatever the outcome on November 6th, we will all need to keep working at promoting what we know is best for our students, for educators, and for public education. We must hold our elected officials—whoever is elected—accountable. Our students rely on us to stand up for them. Let’s exercise our power at the polls to ensure good policies are in place for each one of them!
As the Countdown continues, remember that Your Vote Counts! The number 1 can make a difference!