Today, staff and parents from StudentsFirstNY delivered more than 1,200 voter registration forms, collected in all five boroughs, to the Board of Elections. Our parents, chapter-members and volunteers share a vision of a world where all students, no matter where they are born, have the opportunity to learn in an exceptional school. Everybody is responsible for making this happen, but nobody is more responsible than our elected policy-makers, from the President to the Mayor to our local councilmembers.
In many of our neighborhoods, especially those where we are fighting a legacy of failing schools and low expectations, voter participation is persistently low. In Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville and East New York, less than 20% of eligible voters exercised their right to have their voices heard in the last City elections (see this WNYC study: http://project.wnyc.org/non-voters/.) We need our politicians to understand that every failing school is a crisis; every student failed is a tragedy. If they don't, they should not bother asking for our vote.
My hero, who inspired me to start organizing in my community, is a strong advocate for education reform, and he lives in the White House. One of my favorite quotes from President Obama is "when we get lazy as a democracy and civically start taking shortcuts, then it results in bad government and politics." We've seen lots of bad politics in New York, and it has resulted in some bad government, especially in some of our schools. We have the power to change that, and it starts at the ballot box.
If you're serious about the future of our kids, then you need to be serious about registering to vote. The deadline to register to vote in the September 10th primary is Friday. Make sure your registration is up to date by clicking here. If you're an education voter like me, you know what's at stake and you know that we can't afford to sit any election out. See you at the polls!