I Am Politically Active Because I Care About Public Education

(Reprinted from eChalk; A Biweekly Update from Mary Lindquist, WEA President)

I watched every episode of West Wing. And Robert Redford’s The Candidate is one of my favorite movies. I even enjoyed The Election, an off-beat story about high-school ASB elections. In short, I am a political junkie.
I know not everyone shares this affliction, but I am dismayed to read that the average American spends seven minutes or less per week thinking about politics. And I while I love Washington Week on PBS, I know many of you are too busy with the demands of your jobs and family to spend as much time as I do.
Often I hear from members wondering why WEA is so involved in politics and how we make our decisions on which candidates to support.
The why is simple. Seventy-five percent of all our K-12 schools funding comes from the state. College funding and support for early learning is very dependent upon state funds. How teachers are evaluated, what kind of health care plans are offered, how many days students are in school and what credits they need to graduate from high school and how high college tuition can go are all influenced by the Legislature and other lawmakers.
The how is pretty straight forward. For statewide offices, a subcommittee of the WEA-PAC Management Board interviews the candidates and reviews the candidates’ answers to the questions. The entire PAC membership then acts on the sub-committee’s recommendation.
For legislative candidates, members through their UniServ offices conduct the candidates’ interviews. Teams are trained, use a common set of written questions and conduct face-to-face interviews. When there are vacant seats, these teams are asked to interview all of the viable candidates. Sometimes, when legislators have a pro-education record, we may choose to only interview that incumbent.
The interview team then makes a recommendation to the statewide WEA-PAC Management Board, composed of one member from each council, as well as one additional representative each from ESP, WEA-Retired, WEA Staff and Higher Education. When the PAC board acts, the recommendation becomes official.
Members of the local interview teams are chosen at the council level, often by the council president and/or PAC Board manager. Members interested in being involved — interviews will be occurring in the next month or two — should let their local presidents know.
We want our process to be open, fair and engaging for members and candidates. And we want to identify strong, pro-education, pro-educator and pro-student candidates.



4 Responses to “I Am Politically Active Because I Care About Public Education”

  1. theresa Says:

    I am politically active but I don’t like talking about candidates a year ahead of an election. I want to know the issues. I don’t want to endorse anyone until they are clear about their intentions about education. If we are going to endorse candidates after they make a clear commitment to our issues, then I am all for it.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      I can appreciate that. In some cases, the candidates somewhat define the issues since there are some party line agendas involved, but we have to be more savvy than that. It is, however, closer than you might think, and with the recent example of Wisconsin very fresh in our minds, it is good to be cognizant of the possibilities and to act early rather than late.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I am trying to wrap my head around why many teachers are sitting idle as politicians define our jobs….our careers. If teachers do not get involved with politics (and I personally, do not like politics and hoop jumping), they will wake up someday with merit pay, and an evaluation system that is very, very subjective. Teachers will not have much recourse on what they can do once the anti-public school and anti-teacher bills are passed. Let’s be proactive teachers!

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      I am sorry it took so long to get this comment posted, but, like most of you, I’m a teacher too and it’s been crunch time for quite a while now. Great response and you are so true.

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