Becoming Politically Active: A Change in Attitude

In less than two months, voters will have the opportunity to voice their opinions at the polls.  I will publicly admit, if it is not a presidential election or a local school-levy issue, I am not interested.   I have never been into politics.  Conversations about politics make me squirm.  I have so much going on in my immediate world I don’t have the time to read, listen, and learn about candidates and issues. I’ve always had the feeling of “someone else will take care of it.”

This attitude dates back to my early teaching career, the late 1990s, when I was a member of the OEA and my local union, but only took the handouts, attended informational meetings, and voted in the building elections. I was not what I would call an “active” union member.  Instead, I’d maybe say I was a “reactive” union member. I’d react to the decisions that were made, maybe grumble, and definitely think “Oh well, what can I do? I’m just one person.  I have too much going on in my little world to worry about these things. We’re all in the same boat anyway. They’ll take care of me.”

I remember during my sixth year of teaching I was sitting in a DEA building meeting, which was held the morning after an executive session. All of the young teachers sat together and a veteran teacher and strong union advocate said, “Girls, we need young blood in the union. We need new building reps. You think we are going to be around and take care of this forever, but someday this will be your responsibility.”

Now, halfway through my career (if I even get to retire with 30 years), I find that the responsibility has fallen on my shoulders….as a building representative, as an educator, and as a mother.  I will need to spend the next two months reading, listening, and learning about the candidates and the issues we face in Ohio.

I have been reading the literature I receive in the mail from OEA (the latest is called “Think About It”).  I have been seeking information on the OEA website (for a quick read regarding our next Ohio Governor see Key Differences Between Strickland and Kasich) and I have registered at the OEA’s Campaign 2010 website, as well.

With less than two months until Election Day, Ohio parents and educators have decisions to make that will affect education today and in the future.  While I have not made my decisions, I do feel I am taking responsibility and doing my part.  Lesson learned:  Never say never. I am becoming politically active – just as my veteran-colleague promised I would. I have two children and a classroom of students who will be affected by the decisions made by our future political leaders.  The little world I lived in fifteen years ago has expanded and it’s my turn to take care of it.

By Melanie Krause, Dover Education Association

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