Over the past weekend, I visited some friends in California. The most common questions were around the successes (or lack thereof) of Dallas ISD in educating our students and political engagement in the process. Most of these folks are politically involved and focused. In Los Angeles, school board races draw HUGE donations and community involvement compared to Dallas. Political engagement is a huge problem here. Regardless of which candidate you support, many of the most frustrated people don’t even vote in the elections. Many more never attend or speak out in front of the board.
Election season is coming and always gets here a little sooner than you'd think. Be involved this time around.
Over the weekend, Diane Birdwell via Facebook said “When DISD teachers want to get off their butts and do something about TEI, let me know. Until then, QUIT complaining about it, because doing NOTHING yourself is worse than useless, and it tells the public and the board of trustees that all is fine.” She’s right about the relationship between engagement and frustration. If you aren’t speaking out and speaking up, you’ll get ignored. She’s a long time, very vocal, educator. I don’t always agree with her, but her passion is something I respect and admire. When you go to board meetings and briefings, you see the same hand full of people. Their messaging is tight, familiar, and sincere. The problem is that it is the same people time and time again. If you agree with them, stand with them.
I understand that people don’t think their votes matter. The board is set up where most of the members vote together and the ones that the most frustrated people champion have votes that in practice don’t matter. Joyce Foreman, Bernadette Nutall, and sometimes Dr. Lew Blackburn have come together in the past to try to create, or stop, the changes that their constituents like / dislike. The problem is that those efforts are often times against the grain and are already defeated before they begin. If you disagree with that then the only way to make a change is by getting involved during election time. How bad is voter turnout? Let’s look at a few numbers.
Turn and Talks Blog Readership : +11.8k
May 2015 Elections District 1 Total Votes – 6267 – Dr. Edwin Flores wins with 60% of the vote
May 2015 Elections District 3 Total Votes – 4655 – Dan Micciche wins with 72% of the vote
May 2015 Elections District 1 Total Votes – 3918 – Bernadette Nutall wins with 54% of the vote
May 2014 Elections District 6 Total Votes – 756 – Miguel Solis wins with 68% of the vote
May 2014 Elections District 6 Total Votes – 2357 – Bertha Whatley and Joyce Foreman advance to runoff
May 2014 Elections District 6 Runoff Total Votes – 2436 – Joyce Foreman wins with 65% of the vote
May 2013 Elections District 7 Total Votes – 2683 – Dr. Lew Blackburn wins with 61% of the vote
May 2013 Elections District 5 Total Votes – 3679 – Eric Cowan wins with 60% of the vote
May 2013 Elections District 4 Total Votes – 1404 – Nancy Bingham wins with 60% of the vote
Source: 2015, 2014, 2013
Don’t get me wrong. It feels pretty good that more people read our blog than almost the entire ’13 and ’14 election cycles combined, or that voted to elect former Board President Miguel Solis or Current/Former Board President Eric Cowan combined. Clearly we’re doing something right if more people visit our site than voted in the two most contested DISD school board races of 2015. That’s great for our blog but not so great for DISD. Stand up. Speak out. Vote. All of that participation is a good thing for everyone, but most importantly, our students. Not a good sign that more people are listening to us than showing up at the ballot box.
Side note: Hey Trustees, apparently people read this thing. Want to hang out? I got new microphones that need testing…
DISD Trustee Candidante interviews