I’m starting late this morning because I watched the returns last night – transfixed – through the speeches and all to the very end.
Don’t worry – I’m not going to express any opinion whatsoever on who won and didn’t win. It’s long been my policy to avoid political statements in professional contexts, because to do so is one sure way to lose credibility with about half of the people in any given group.
Regardless of our personal perspectives, as school library professionals, we must think about how the election results will affect our practice. Here are a few observations:
- It’s wholesome to celebrate with our minority students our new evidence that there are no limits on achievement based on ethnicity or gender. True, a woman did not win, but there were two serious contenders – and both did well. Many young people who felt little hope should be encouraged by all of this.
- Look at how information was used in this electoral process. Levels of slander and deliberate misinformation seemed lower – much lower – in comparison to recent elections. Note the expanding role of the Internet, including the use of youTube to prevent voter fraud.
- Georgia is still a Republican state, in a Democrat-controlled Washington (executive and legislative branches both). What impact will this change have? What opportunities might result?
- Furthermore, the voting results led several pundits (I was watching PBS) to opine that racism still exists among white voters in the South. Whether you agree or not, Georgians are seen in this light. What can be done about that?
- Will NCLB disappear, or its implementation improve through enhanced funding? Or will other critical issues so dominate the political atmosphere that education will be “left behind?”
- Political parties have different philosophies toward money – will this shift in power cause differences in educational funding?
- To sum it all up, how should we be working in our programs, given our many issues – wars, economy, global warming, etc.? How do we contextualize these things within our daily work? For example, are there ways to model “green” practices in the media center? Can we encourage creative and innovative thought, to help prepare our students for the problem-solving needed now and in the future? These problems affect us right now and will increasingly affect our young people as they mature.
I don’t know much about politics, but like the rest of the country I enjoy watching and participating in the “game.” Politics = life, really. Our actions and opnions do matter – and we need to remind our young people of this every day.
(I’m really glad that the ads and robo-calls are over!)
Mary Ann Fitzgerald, University of Georgia