Santa Monica High School

Column: For the children

Children are the future. So it would follow that educating children would be the most important thing a community could do. But clearly people in Los Angeles don’t care about the children, or the future, enough to get off the couch and vote.

When Besty DeVos was announced as President Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, Angelenos took to the streets. Hundreds of people, including teachers, attended protests in downtown Los Angeles and at local elementary schools. They made signs, brought their children out, and marched against a nominee for secretary of education with whom they disagreed. That is part of our American democracy.

But when it’s time to actually participate in that same democracy by voting, there is no enthusiasm. In fact, apathy takes the day with fewer than nine percent of the eligible voters going to the polls on Tuesday. Two of the most important races for the future of the children were the L.A. school board races, which defined the way the second largest public school district in the country approaches education.

Charter schools and their backers scored a pair of victories. LAUSD Board of Education President Steve Zimmer lost to pro-charter school candidate Nick Melvoin. And Kelly Gonez, another pro-reform candidate, bested Imelda Padilla. Over $14 million was spent on the two races combined, making them the most expensive school board races ever in the United States.

The LAUSD school board now has a 4-3 pro-charter school majority. Betsy DeVos and other charter school advocates must be happy now. But where are the anti-charter school, anti-school choice marchers now? One would think all those people who were marching in the streets would go to the polls, but sadly no. Why is that?

Voting is boring. You stand in a line, go into a booth alone, and make a mark on a piece of paper.

No clever signs. No chants. No social media posts (at least none that are very exciting).

Just a peaceful marking of a ballot to let your voice be heard, to do your civic duty, to engage in democracy.

Voting was designed to be a peaceful and easy process so that every U.S. citizen could do it. We can march, we can protest, we can let our ideas be heard in the street. But we must also let our voices be heard in the voting booth.

The election is over and there is a new, fundamentally different LAUSD school board. Some might say hope for the children. I would say vote for the children.

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