As you know, the polls opened on February 20th for early voting and are open until March 2nd. You may also be aware that I along with our School Board have supported and encouraged our staff and eligible students to educate themselves on the issues and the candidates as well as to engage in the civic right and responsibility to vote---in all eligible elections large and small. For this, I won’t apologize nor will I cower to the bullies out there in our state and nation who are offended by the fact that public schools are encouraging citizens to become educated and engaged. In fact, supporting this sort of civic mindedness is the very essence for what public education was designed to do.
Allow me to illustrate with a few important facts and some opinions.
Fact #1: Texas Education Code 2A4.001 cites that the mission and purpose of public schools and “Educators will [be to] prepare students to be thoughtful, active citizens who have an appreciation for the basic values of our state and national heritage and who can understand and productively function in a free enterprise society.”
Opinion #1: Apparently, it is our job as educators to help prepare students to function in our society and to me, that includes understanding the importance of and having models who educate themselves and engage in the many aspects of voting, elections, and the overall ideals of our democracy.
Fact #2: It is Texas Law for Public High School Principals to ensure that all eligible students in high school register to vote. In 1983, State Rep. Paul Ragsdale authored novel legislation calling on our public schools to educate and engage our students in voting. This law required principals or other designated registrars to circulate voter registration forms and notices to eligible high schoolers at least twice a year.
Opinion #2: It seems to me that our own Texas legislators saw a need for and acted upon using our public schools to promote civic mindedness and especially to create a culture of voting in our young people.
I will close with an interpretation of these facts. Educators are to ensure that students learn academic content and this content includes Government. Our students begin learning about the ideals of our democracy as early as Kindergarten and continue to learn about our government, economy, and societal issues through the 12th grade. Teachers are responsible for not only teaching the facts about these concepts, but they must provide multiple real-world examples and scenarios in which the students develop a greater understanding of the complex and critical aspects of our government. Our teachers also serve as role models for our students in many ways; the least of which is how to educate themselves on the issues and how to engage in our government. We do this in many ways and one of the most crucial ways is ---voting. Therefore, it just makes sense that we would not only encourage our students to engage in civic mindedness, but we would encourage and even expect our educators to model this very same behavior. I also feel compelled to set the record straight. Pampa ISD has not used district resources in any way to promote certain candidates or political parties. We have merely encouraged our staff to educate themselves on the issues and the candidates and to engage in the process by voting---early and as often as we have the opportunity for our voices to be heard. See you at the polls!
Pampa Independent School District
1233 North Hobart
Pampa, Texas 79065
Copyright © pampa independent school district 2015. All rights reserved.
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