Time to Take Charge of Your Future: Early Voting Begins Monday, October 18

From time to time we spot a car with a bumper sticker that says: “It’s too bad the people who really know how to run the country are all too busy teaching school.”

We tend to agree that teachers and other school employees have a pretty good handle on what it would take to govern well. We certainly know that what we’ve seen on the state level in recent years is not going to win any prizes for good government.
State funding for public education has stagnated while a test-obsessed accountability system has hindered rather than helped real teaching and learning. Much of the time it seems that our students’ successes come in spite of a system that is designed to fail. Yet now things could actually get worse. Some politicians see a looming state budget crisis as the perfect excuse to dismantle state quality standards, strip away safeguards of education employees’ rights, and penalize and privatize struggling public schools.

Unfortunately, we also have to concede that there’s a good bit of truth to the part of that bumper-sticker slogan about educators who are “too busy teaching” to apply themselves to the task of building a better government–one that would really put education first and stop shortchanging our students. Educators need to take charge of their future, by actively engaging in political battle, for their own sake and their students’ stake. Nobody else can or will do this for us.

Step one is to participate in the November 2 general election, which will decide who holds nearly every statewide office in Texas from governor on down, plus 150 state House seats, half the seats in the Texas Senate, every Texas seat in the U.S. House, multiple judicial offices, and some key seats on the State Board of Education.

In fact, this election is actually starting in just three days, on Monday, October 18, as a 12-day period of early voting opens. We urge you to vote early from October 18 through October 29, and to help get every eligible member of your family and other education-minded Texans to the polls along with you.

Texas AFT is your watchdog at the state capitol, just as AFT keeps track of who’s on the side of schoolchildren and educators in Washington. The Texas AFT Web site is loaded with information and links that will enable you to cast a vote for candidates who want to build up public education rather than weaken it or tear it down. Go to www.texasaft.org to see the full details of Texas AFT’s endorsements in key statewide races (including Bill White for governor, Linda Chavez-Thompson for lieutenant governor, Barbara Ann Radnofksy for attorney general) and every other contest in which we’ve been able to identify the candidates who are most supportive of you and the students you serve. A large part of the latest issue of Texas AFT’s flagship publication, the Texas Teacher, also is devoted to candidate comparisons and reports on what is at stake in this year’s election. You’ll find the Texas Teacher not only in your mailbox at home but also on our Web site.

Hotlines from now through Election Day, November 2, will highlight some of the hottest races and (we believe) give you good reason to get out and vote yourself and get others to vote, too..