In my time in education, I have heard many versions of the statement “I am not political, I just want to do my job.” Such a sentiment is certainly understandable, especially in the political climate we are currently going through as a country. However, it is precisely because of this current climate that we need to be more politically active than ever.
One of the main reasons education is at the forefront of politics is money. Education is the largest share of our state budget, accounting for approximately 35 to 40% of state spending. It is also one of the few places in the budget where legislators can use discretion when deciding how much to spend. So you can bet that many different interests are always trying to direct the education piece of the budget to other places.
Who we have making these decisions matters. Not every legislator understands the complexities of educating kids or is willing to give us all of the resources our students deserve. But because of our work and our organizing every election, a majority of our legislators do listen and generally want to be helpful to education. This year that means we will see the Budget Stabilization Factor brought down to its lowest level in years, which means more resources for our students and salary increases for educators.
This year especially, please put the apprehension about politics aside and get involved in upcoming elections. We need your help to make sure our elected officials listen to us and put more resources toward public education.
Kevin Vick is a high school social studies teacher and vice president of the CEA.