Your Voice, Your Vote
By Anita Merina
Stakes were high in the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial race, and the race was close. Pro-public education candidate Terry McAuliffe—endorsed by the Virginia Education Association and NEA—led in voter polls but the gap was closing.
In the final weeks before election night, student members in Virginia worked tirelessly. They knocked on doors, made phone calls, and campaigned in person and through social media.
When the final votes were tallied—in a nail-biter of an election night—Virginia voters had elected McAuliffe and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam by narrow margins.
“This election showed our ability to mobilize our members,” says Daniel Hendrix, a student at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., and president of the Student Virginia Education Association. “We walked through precincts, knocked on doors, and rallied our fellow students to vote. We knew our actions were critical.”
“Young voters have a key role to play,” says NEA Student Program chair David Tjaden, “Whether it’s in a presidential election, referendum on school funding, or school board or state legislature election, student members have a responsibility to stand up for public education.” As the 2014 mid-term elections draw near, Tjaden says NEA student members face another chance to stand up for public students and educators, college affordability, and schools that are safe and healthy for students. “We have the opportunity to elect leaders who will vote with conviction for our nation’s children. The future is in our hands. But we can’t make a difference if we don’t get involved,” Tjaden says.
Virginia student leader Daniel Hendrix agrees.
“By participating in elections, students make an immediate impact on what goes on in their future classroom. Voting gives students efficacy, a voice, and an opportunity to affect positive change to education,“ says Hendrix. “Making a difference in students’ lives isn’t confined by the walls of a classroom. We can make just as much of a difference by showing up to the polls and casting our ballot.”