Equity is on the Ballot

Equity is on the Ballot

10/27/2020

Written by Leading Educators Staff

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Equity is on the Ballot

On November 3, we face a critical juncture in our journey toward a more equitable future. After a year of deeply felt hardship, devastating and preventable loss—and so many moments that have required us to reflect on what and whom we value—millions of Americans will exercise their right to vote. As you consider the choices ahead, we ask you to #VoteforEquity.

We believe that education is our greatest asset to create opportunity and disrupt racial inequity in society. Systemic inequity has been deeply ingrained in our country’s foundation since the very beginning, but we have achieved progress when generations of people have come together to push us toward a better day. Some may feel that, because of the very nature of this protracted fight for equity, their vote will not make a difference. Let’s be clear: it will. 

Four Years Can Change a Life 

This election challenges us to ask who is best equipped to advocate for stronger and more just schools. Who will prioritize the needs and hopes of the Black, Latino/x, and Indigenous students who have too often been denied a fair shot to learn? Who will own their responsibility to serve with discipline, empathy, and a willingness to learn?

The past four years have been palpably harmful to communities of color. Leaders at the highest levels have weaponized racism for political gain, sowing division rather than leading us to recognize our differences in the interest of working toward a shared purpose. We have also seen continued disinvestment in our schools, roll-backs of federal protections for trans-identified students, and pressure to risk students’ and teachers’ lives amid a global pandemic. Different political leadership does not necessarily mean these threats will go away, so we must be prepared to demand accountability to inclusion and equitable opportunity from anyone who takes power.

Voting is just the start   

We must also recognize the power we have to become the country we imagine. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Leading Educators will remain committed to building school communities that affirm every student’s inherent strengths and that cultivate the knowledge they need to pursue their ambitions. But from local school boards to the White House, we need leadership that is committed to ensuring educators have the resources and support to achieve this vision. Even with leaders who support our efforts in seats of power, schools will continue to need strong champions with a shared vision for excellent and equitable access to educational opportunities.

As you make your plan to vote, we encourage you to do the following:

  1. If you are able to vote, recognize why your vote matters for education. Our local and national leaders make consequential decisions about funding, educational standards, districting, curriculum, and teaching requirements, among many other facets of public education. They also have the power to enact policies that determine who can participate in the democratic process — non-citizens, permanent residents, and some people who have been incarcerated cannot vote for our leaders despite being members of our communities. Teachers, students, and families are counting on you.
  2. Do your research. Make sure the people you support will be values-driven champions for students and teachers. Stay current and informed on their positions. If you have the opportunity to speak to them, ask the hard questions and expect specifics.
  3. Be an ally to your neighbors. Black and Latino/x people are systematically being denied the right to vote right now. Talk with those you know about their plans, and make sure they understand the requirements they will need to meet to have their votes counted. If someone tries to stop you or someone else from voting, call election protection immediately (866-687-8683). You can find examples of suppressive behaviors at leadingeducators.org/vote.

If you can do even more for the cause, that’s great! At Leading Educators, we’re using November 3rd as a day of service for staff to support members of their community as they see fit. Whether you are driving someone to a voting location, serving as an early-voting poll worker, or making time to talk with people you know about the issues, there are many ways to give back. No matter how you vote, please stay safe.

This is our moment to ignite a new way forward. Deeply rooted systemic inequity will not change overnight, so we must recommit to our collective work. Show students you see them and that you will fight for their right to learn. Let the 3 million educators who power our schools know they will have you behind them no matter what challenges lie ahead. With so much on the line, what will you do? 

Signed,

Jernell M. Alexander, Naureen Ali, Kim Andrews, Lenna Assaf, Ariana Audisio, Precious Boyle, LaKimbre Brown, Michelle Brown, Alexandra Dakin, Erin Davis, Tina De La Fe, Paige del Rio, Tyler DeSpenza, Rebecca Dill, Araceli Flores, Chong-Hao Fu, Adan Garcia, LeAnita Garner, Elizabeth Hemphill, Brittney Jones, Heather LaLuzerne, Mohamad Maarouf, Laura Meili, Mary Kay Murphy, Nefertari Nkenge, Saya Powell, Jake Ramirez, Kristine Schipper, Jennifer Sierra, David Sigler, Maggie Slye, Tim Tasker, Rashida Tyler

MAKE YOUR PLAN:

  • Healthy Voting: Healthy Voting helps you find healthy, secure, and safe ways to cast your ballot this year. Healthy voting practices protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community from the spread of COVID-19.
  • VOTE411.org (Spanish /English): Vote411 from the League of Women Voters is now in Spanish and English. Vote411 is a tool to keep voters updated on the changes and to counter misinformation about elections.
  • When We All Vote: A one-stop shop for registering to vote, requesting a vote by mail ballot, and more.
  • Ballot Ready: Everything on your ballot, in one place from county commissioners to ballot measures to judges, access everything on your entire ballot that you’ll see in the voting booth.

Note: As a 501(c)(3) organization, Leading Educators is prohibited from participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office.