Monday, September 8, 2014

Why you should go vote tomorrow (education edition)

Hey, Massachusetts! We have an election tomorrow!
Tomorrow is the Massachusetts state primary. If you are a REPUBLICAN, you can go vote for Republican candidate for governor (and candidates standing for nomination uncontested). If you are a DEMOCRAT, you can go vote for a Democratic candidate for Governor, for Lieutenant Governor, for Attorney General, for Treasurer, and (depending on your district) possibly a Senator and a Representative. If you are UNENROLLED, you can pick which primary to vote in (and it doesn't change your political registration).
For those in Worcester, you can find the list of who is running here. And you can find where you vote here.
I am a huge fan of voting and urge you to do it whenever you are given a chance; in my own case, that's because women have only been voting in the U.S. for the lifetime of my grandfather (he turned 95 in March, and he would tell you to vote, too!). BUT here are why many of the above offices matter specifically in terms of education:

For Governor: the Governor appoints the members of the Board of Ed. They, in term, set policy for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (deciding things like what tests we give and what standards we follow), plus they appoint the Commissioner of Education, who manages education in the state. I think for many years, many of us just sort of ignored the Board, as there wasn't much that happened there that had much of an impact. If nothing else, Race to the Top changed that. These decisions matter, big time, to what's happening in classrooms across the state.

Likewise on Lieutenant Governor.

For Attorney General: among the responsibilities of the AG is enforsement of the Open Meeting Law. If you want decisions made in public--and you want public officials held responsible when they aren't--pay attention to this position.

For Treasurer: in addition to overseeing the finances of the Commonwealth, the Treasurer serves as chair of the Board of the Massachusetts School Building Authority. Those new windows, boilers, roofs? A new Nelson Place? New high schools? That all comes from MSBA. We've been well-served lately, Worcester: who is in this position has something to do with what happens next.
And here's the only endorsement, or rather lack thereof, that I'm going to make: please note that Barry Feingold, running for this position, was the originator of the Senate version of the charter cap lift bill. He attempted to amend the bill that came from the House to not have the state pay for current charter schools before creating new ones. This is not a fiscally responsible position. Choose otherwise.

For Senator and Representative: That charter cap bill above? It was stopped in the Senate, and instrumental in that were Worcester's two senators, Chandler and Moore. The only 'no' vote in the House from Worcester was from Represenative Keefe. Our chapter 70 aid, circuit breaker reimbursement for special education, kindergarten grants, and, frankly, funding for just about every other corner of education in Worcester (and, to varying degrees, across the state)? It comes through the Legislature. Laws on everything from the school safety plans we have in place to the number of charter schools we have to how we decide who graduates? Again, that all comes through the Legislature. We need good people in these seats who are well-informed on education policy (or are willing to learn!).

Polls open at 7 am tomorrow and they stay open until 8 pm (or until the last person in line at 8 votes). GO VOTE!

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