By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Senior National
Dr. Naomi Johnson Booker, the founder of the Philadelphia-based charter school management corporation, Global Academies, is adamant about the importance of getting out the vote.
Booker, whose academy scholars program establishes 8th graders as passport-holding citizens, who have travel the globe on learning excursions as they prepare for leadership roles, said the future of education is among the more significant concerns going into the 2020 election.
“Although African Americans have a ‘seat at the table,’ we do not have enough of a voice in government to make a difference. But our power rests within our vote like a seed waiting to germinate,” Booker declared.
“We have got to exercise that power at the local, state, and national levels for real change to happen. Every Black and brown person has the right to be part of the decisions that impact our country. And so, to do that, we have to show our power at the voting booth.”
Booker points out that regardless of how high the stakes are in this year’s presidential election, local races are just as important for families with school-age children.
“Systemic racism in public education relative to funding and fairness can only be overcome by electing candidates who stand for justice and equity and removing those whose records show they don’t,” Booker demanded.
Karen Gross, a former college president who once served as a senior policy advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, told BlackPressUSA that the election’s impact on education would be profound across the entire early childhood through adult education pipeline.
She pointed out significant differences between President Donald Trump and Democratic Nominee Joe Biden and the impact that they would have on children.
“The high-profile engagement of the Secretary of Education in policy-making across government is critically important. Under the current administration, the Secretary of Education has been missing in action, especially related to the pandemic and school reopening and closing,” Gross remarked.
“Under a Biden/Harris term, education and its Secretary will have a high profile and will be deeply engaged in a range of issues including student success, student mental health, and educational needs across other disciplines.”
Gross added that there’s currently a push for privatizing education, focusing on charter schools and religious schools and not enough attention to public education, especially for young children.
She believes a Biden/Harris term would recognize the critical values of public education, including the need to pay attention to all students’ equity.
Mental health, addressing student progression to post-secondary education, and appreciation of students’ lives outside of school are also vital educational components voters should consider.
“The debates were a sharp example of what is terrible for children – not understanding how fighting and yelling and name-calling affect students and trigger trauma in some instances,” Gross said.
“If we are to help all children, we need to role model for all children – positive role models.”
Jason Llorenz, the vice president of Communications at Leadership for Educational Equity, said building a diverse pipeline of leaders “that reflect our communities and values is critically important to the continued progress of our country and central to the work of Leadership for Educational Equity.”
“Supporting values-based, equity-driven leaders to assume political power at the highest level in this is a long-overdue step,” said Llorenz.
“Women, Latinos, and Black Americans have been civically leading our communities for generations but are completely underrepresented in elected office.
“While the civic and political landscape in the United States hasn’t kept pace with our demographics, it has been changing. Instead of serving as faithful electors for others, minority communities are stepping up and winning elections to address the broken systems that perpetuate inequity in our country.”
Michael Miller, the CEO of VPN Online, offered that whoever wins the election will dictate how to spend the budget and what to prioritize.
“In education, Trump will create a more privatized charter school, thereby lessening the need for an education budget,” Miller stated.
“The idea is to promote private charters so they can fund their school. Of course, this will leave most of the decision-making in the private owners’ hands, and whatever they decide will dictate what will happen to the country’s education system.”
“On the other hand, Biden has proposed an educational plan that will remove private charter and promote free K12 education and free two years of community college. The program also reduces student loan payment, cutting it down from 10 percent to 5 percent.
“Furthermore, the plan also lowers student loans for anyone who works for the public schools. This will encourage more people to look for a career in that field. Whoever wins the election will promote their respective stance in education. So, think profoundly and vote wisely because elections have consequences.”