Public education is crucial to having a well-balanced society. According to Jack Jennings from the HuffPost (hyperlink source), only one in 10 children attend a private K-12 school, leaving about 90 percent of children to attend public schools.
Public education takes up a large portion of a child's life and can vastly shape how that child views the world. However, poverty, funding, student health, bullying and budget cuts are some of the biggest challenges that public schools face.
Teachers also do not get sufficient pay in many states, some lower than $50,000 on average according to CNBC. These states include Oklahoma, Mississippi, South Dakota, North Carolina, and West Virginia.
In order to have quality education, quality teachers must be put in place but this simply isn't possible if their wages are astronomically low to the point where they need a second job to sustain themselves or families, not to mention that lack of funding leaves teachers being forced to essentially take money out of their own pockets to fund a sufficient classroom. That being said public education is not a partisan issue. In fact, anyone can and should support public education. Here are five ways you can go about doing this.
Vote, vote, vote!
It is extremely vital to creating any sort of real change to go out and vote on bills that can help put funding into schools. Also, voting for state representatives that care about public funding is vital because, the truth is, many politicians don't.
Many Oklahoma representatives, for instance, have chosen to prioritize funding the oil industry over funding education. The oil lobby has given representatives like Kevin McDugle and Mark White a lot of contributions. McDugle took to Facebook Live to rant about how teachers were behaving "selfishly" for walking out during the teacher walkout in April 2018. Whereas, Mark White allegedly told students (including myself) to just " take what they can get" when a group of Moore High students had visited him during the walkout. According to Vox, nearly 100 public school teachers are running for office in Oklahoma as a result of the walkout, voting for former teachers who care about public education is essentially the best route.
Attend a local school board meeting.
All public school districts host school board meetings about once a month or so. Attending one of these can allow you to understand the concerns and needs of that particular district and once you have attended a few meetings it is a great place to make your voice heard.
Contact your current representatives.
Find a specific aspect of public education that is most important to you and talk to your legislators about funding. Write and call them often and always be persistent. It is imperative that you do not give up or back down. Arranging a meeting with a representative is also a great way to connect with them and truly have a dialogue. However, for an easy way to get your point across text " RESIST" to 50409 to fax a message to your state representatives right from your phone!
Support local libraries.
Public education and public libraries essentially go hand-in-hand. Donate, volunteer, do whatever you feel is best by simply stopping by your local library and talking to them!
Volunteer at school.
Whether through chaperoning field trips, educating students about your career path, paint or remodel schools over the summer, be a substitute teacher, join PTA/PTO, the possibilities are endless. If you know anyone who is a teacher, donating to their classroom is a great way to give back and show your support for public education.
Public education is something that not only affects many people, but it will take many different efforts from communities to really make a big change. The good news is, your voice matters and as long as you use it, you will make a difference.