In a 2018 Florida race for governor, the final results that flipped the original election prediction on its head were because of school choice. The desire for all children to have access to a high-quality education drove 100,000 Black women to the Florida voting booth—and they did not vote in the way people predicted they might.
More than just a civic duty, voting is the essential piece of our democracy that allows voices—ours and others—to be heard and listened to. With our vote, we can affect change in policies that effect our schools and students.
Regardless of your political affiliation, we can and should hold our candidates and elected officials accountable, as it is our job to make sure those in power listen to the people they claim to support. Here’s what you can do to make your voice heard this 2020 election:
Register to Vote (Or Check Your Registration Status)
Making sure you are registered to vote is the first step! If you want to register to vote or are unsure about your voting status, visit our Charters Vote hub. With the portal, you can do both—as well as get set up to vote early or as an absentee if your state allows, and even find your polling location when we get closer to the election.
Allowing yourself the opportunity to vote takes only a few easy steps and can impact the schools in your area greatly.
Pay Attention to the Down-ballot Elections
Down-ballot elections—those for the local and state levels—can be especially influential on the access students have to high-quality public schools. Charter schools are most effected by those in these positions, so it’s just as important to vote in these elections as it is in the presidential election.
As just one very timely example, school reopening decisions related to COVID-19 are being made at the local level—that’s your school board and mayor. Or in some cases, the governor may be the decision maker. Regardless of how you personally feel about school reopening, these choices are being made for you and your students.
For another state-level policy example that affects public schools, funding equity is a huge issue. Your state legislature—who you elect—holds the power to make decisions that will have an impact on the funding your school receives.
That’s why it is so important to know your candidates all the way down the ballot—federal, state, and local. Whether or not the candidate you prefer makes it into office, you can still have a direct effect on the policies that are put in place by raising your voice as a constituent. And ultimately, if you do not like those policies, fight back at the ballot.
Keep in Mind What You are Voting For
This past spring when the COVID-19 outbreak moved nearly every school across the U.S. to distance learning, charter schools used the flexibility of their school model to do it quickly. In addition to daily lessons, they provided food, technology, and emotional support, to their students and communities, despite the immense challenge.
Charter schools are an essential part of our public education system—especially for historically marginalized and underserved communities whose zip codes have ruled their futures too long. Voting allows us to advocate for students and families who have been pushed to the side and silenced for decades.
We are stronger in numbers. When we all vote we are more powerful, and we can do more to ensure that those in power understand that we are here, and we are watching.
Take Advantage of Voter Registration and Resources
There are a number of organizations dedicated to ensuring we are all registered and empowered to vote—regardless of party lines.
To provide additional resources to schools, the National Alliance has partnered with When We All Vote, a non-partisan nonprofit co-founded by Michelle Obama. The organization’s mission is to increase participation in every election and close the race and age voting gap by changing the culture around voting, harnessing grassroots energy, and through strategic partnerships to reach every American.
Sign up to learn more about the My School Votes initiative to join the team, make your voice heard, and raise the voices of those in your school community.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought so many uncertainties into our everyday lives: food security, job security, the future of our economy, and the future of education. One thing we still have is our democracy. We still have the power to bring elected officials into office who have our best interests in mind.
We may not know what tomorrow holds, therefore we must act today and use our vote to enact the policies that protect our schools and students.
Reed Mitchell is the communications coordinator at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
Check your registration status and learn about your down-ballot candidates in the Charters Vote hub.