A Letter from Your Union President 

They say educators don’t vote.  

The clock is ticking to prove them wrong. 

I want to be honest and upfront with you. The consequences of the fast-approaching Republican and Democratic primary elections are especially high for educators and dire for our students. 

But as I write this, statewide voter turnout sits at just 7% of Texans. 

Earlier this week, Texas AFT released the results of our latest membership survey. (Read more about them in tomorrow’s Hotline.) For the third year in a row, two-thirds of our members — teachers, professors, counselors, librarians, custodians, bus drivers, and more — are seriously thinking of leaving the profession. 

Folks, I told the media this, and I’ll say it to you too: This survey is a declaration of disaster. We are in the middle of an educator retention crisis, and yet we have major school districts announcing layoffs. Likewise, Texas has the world’s eighth-largest economy, but we just rejected federal funding that would guarantee millions of Texas kids free, healthy meals over the summer. 

As one of our members, Tyler Reames, said in a video message to reporters this week, “We’ve got all the wrong priorities.” 

But we have an opportunity right now to take a step to address this mess. Early voting is underway in a primary election that has been flooded with millions of out-of-state dollars and misinformation about our schools peddled by Gov. Greg Abbott and his voucher donors. 

Friend, billionaires and their paid grifters are trying to buy our state. If we don’t vote, we are putting out a For Sale sign on our communities. 

Please, make your plan to vote if you haven’t already. Early voting ends tomorrow, and Election Day is Tuesday, March 5. 

If you are unsure about what’s at stake, what’s on your ballot, and who the public education champions are in your area, I encourage you to visit vote.texasaft.org, our Voter Education Hub. 

And because I am a former teacher, I want to use this space to educate and remind you of how elections work here in Texas. Many people think they are registered as either Republicans or Democrats and can vote only in that party’s primary. But in Texas, we don’t register to vote with a party affiliation. Even if you have voted in the Republican primary previously, you can choose to vote in the Democratic primary this year — and vice versa. 

I urge you to vote your conscience and your community. Many of the Republican incumbents, for example, who stood against Gov. Abbott’s voucher push last year are now facing well-monied challengers. Your vote could make the difference for your community’s schools. 

Regardless of party, if you are simply voting in the November general election, you are only fulfilling part of your duty as a citizen. If we want our elected officials to listen to us, we have to make our voice heard at every opportunity. Voting in the party primary of your choice could be your last, best chance to determine who is making big decisions for our state and communities to thrive over the next several years. 

In solidarity 

Zeph Capo 

Texas AFT President 

Text Out the Vote with Texas AFT 

P.S. If you’ve already voted, thank you. Join us TONIGHT on Zoom to text out the vote with the rest of our members, encouraging them to cast a ballot for public education champions on their ballots. Register here.