The first time I ever stepped into my son’s local public school was not to take a tour. I didn’t even have a child yet. The first time I walked into my son’s elementary school was to vote. While using schools as polling places has met with resistance from parents and others recently, I consider it the perfect place to vote.
I’m not going to downplay parent’s fears. I understand the world. I’m not naive. However, I think having schools as polling places is a positive thing. Members at large who may not ever go to a public school, or have children get to interact with our space. I wish I could label things purchased with PTA money, or donated by a teacher, but that might be going too far. Still they might spot outdated laptops. They might spot a leaky roof or a gym that is obviously too small to hold all the kids they see in the hallway. Maybe if they spot a teacher they’ll remember a teacher’s march or article about low pay.
This year my PTA is having a bake sale. It might sound ridiculously old fashioned, but I love the idea. Voters will interact with school leaders. Maybe they’ll make a connection. Maybe they’ll join our PTA and volunteer. I hope they see vibrant and happy kids, because we have great public schools. At the very least they might give just a little to our school and purchase a baked good.
So how do I address the real fear of school safety? I believe that is done in the voting booth. We don’t need to keep the public out of our school. We just need to make a safer stronger society. I believe we do that by electing officials that believe in gun sense legislation. That entails stronger background checks. That means the banning of military weapons in the hands of civilians. Weapons like the AR-15. I think we need to have a strong support staff, so we need legislators to step up and vote for better school funding. We need more Teacher Assistants and better teacher ratios. Most of all, we need counselors, school psychologist, and school nurses.
For those of you with kids attending a school that is also a polling place, embrace election day. Talk about it with your kids. If you haven’t voted yet, take your kids in to vote with you. Most of all, think of the very building you stand in when you cast your ballot.