Educator Voices at the Ballot Box

November 2, 2022 by Terrell Brown

After the adjustments that were made in 2020, we have seen an influx of new residents moving into the state of South Carolina at a rapid pace. Over the many months, I always kept thinking about what we can do as a community to help our state compete to be the best, in which everyone can win in the long run. The issue that impacts everyone the most is a successful public education system.

“Elections have consequences” is a saying that I have been hearing over the years. I didn’t really get the meaning of it until it impacted my profession and my community. According to US News & World Reports, our state is ranked 42 out of 50 when it comes to K-12 education. Our higher education system is ranked 45 out of 50 in the nation. And our teacher salary is in the bottom 25 out of 50 US States.

I don’t think that is a good reflection on this state and the hard work that so many educators do for a salary that in some cases is well below what they need to afford to live here. And in response, we have the duty to question our decisions in selecting elected officials that control most levels of South Carolina’s education system.

When it comes to investing in our community, we need to think about improving our public education system by funding it more and creating an educational infrastructure so strong that other states would be visiting us on a regular basis to learn and build relationships for the long term. I remember when we used to laugh at certain states about their test scores, but now they are improving their educational infrastructures and moving ahead of SC. I never forgot the story of Blockbuster and Netflix: one company saw the future, while the other one didn’t.

We need to get involved and engaged in talking to politicians on ways to increase teacher pay and making public education a top priority. I was told by a professor in college, “a fair is a place in which they take your money and you have to pay for everything else.”  As an educator, we pay taxes, so why not get involved by asking for our fair share. Some very easy ways to get involved are:

  1. Vote for pro-public education candidates.
  2. Attend Lobby Day at the SC Statehouse.
  3. Contact Legislative members on a regular basis.
  4. Keep up with educational policies that affect us.

No matter how hard we teachers complain through our voices about how unfair things are, we have to get engaged so we can evaluate people who make decisions for us and the students that we serve. We need to make sure that we look at every stakeholder’s position when it comes to education. Everyone needs to remember that our neighbors have community members who work in public schools, but we need to make sure that they are being provided the opportunity to live a life in which they can support local businesses. The only way that this type of change can happen is if we all exercise our right to vote, focus on what will serve our students best, and encourage others to think of public education as touching everyone’s future, because it does.

 

The Elevating Teachers blog is a platform designed to elevate educator voices. It’s a space to share stories and tips for maintaining a sense of purpose and wellbeing in and out of the classroom.

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