We are in the middle of quite the tumultuous political season. The whole thing may bore you to tears. Or it may fill you loathing. But I urge to look past the yelling matches and TV ads and scandals to the facts about each candidate and where they stand on issues that are important to you, such as your education. When you do, you’ll see: your vote (or your parents’ vote) matters.
When it comes to the presidential election, for example, democrat Hillary Clinton recently unveiled a proposal to ensure that any American student can go to a public college and pay for tuition without any student debt. Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders would take the proposal one step further and make all public colleges and universities free. Some of the other presidential candidates would shift money from public schools to charter schools through a voucher program. Republican candidates Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, and Donald Trump have all supported similar measures in the past.
But while national politics are big and exciting, the real difference often come sat the local level in the people you vote for in your school board. How many new teachers will be hired this year, whether you finally get new textbooks or laptops, what school in the county gets the most funding: it’s all decided by the school board.
The largest impact votes will have is in setting the curriculum, which may not seem as important to you as a 17- or 18-year-old about to graduate high school. But your parents’ vote will certainly matter. And if you are old enough to vote, you’ll be playing an important part in deciding the future of education in your state and in the country. Some of the presidential candidates support Common Core (a curriculum developed by a collection of governors from various states that was encouraged by the Obama administration with grant money), and some do not. Forty-five states initially chose to adopt the curriculum, but a number of states are pausing their implementation or opting out altogether. Although the National Education Association reported in 2013 that 76% of teachers support Common Core, it has drawn harsh criticism from both the left and right of the political spectrum. Much of the criticism comes from the added emphasis on standardized testing. But the unifying factor is that who you (or your parents) vote for matters a lot.
I hope by now you are getting the point: voting matters in a big way to you as a student. Really dig into the candidates (you can compare your views to the candidates at multiple websites, such as IStandWith.com) and find the ones you agree with and then cast your ballot. Because if you care about what you’re learning, the tools you’re learning with, and how you’re going to pay for college, then who you (and your parents) vote for matters.