Dear Team DPS,
Today is Election Day. I hope that everyone has exercised their right to vote, something that none of us should take for granted. Throughout our history, the right to vote has been fought for by groups of Americans who had previously been disenfranchised -- the poor, people of color, women, and young people. The 15th Amendment gave African American men the right to vote in 1870. The 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920, gave American women the right to vote. The 24th Amendment, ratified in 1964, eliminated poll taxes. And in 1971, the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age for all elections to 18.
Regardless of where you stand on the issues, voting is essential to our democracy and I sincerely hope that today and in the coming weeks, we see the best of America and Americans. Many people feel anxious and are concerned about what this year’s election may bring. I share in some of that anxiety, but I am also optimistic. Elections are important in a democracy, but so are our public schools. In public schools, young people get the opportunity to learn about their history and the electoral process. They get to debate the issues and hear diverse perspectives from their classmates. Our classrooms, both virtual and in-person, can be the space where our young people can talk about their thoughts, concerns and hopes and dreams. We have seen our young people embrace their voice and exercise their rights throughout this difficult time and our district is better because of their engagement. Public schools create the foundation for democracy and never more so than during this global pandemic.
Here are some resources that you can use with your students, who may also be feeling anxious.
· "Teaching the 2020 Election: What Will You Do on Wednesday?" by Cory Collins in Teaching Tolerance, October 27, 2020.
· "In a Time of Calamity, What Do Children Need from Us?" by Justin Minkel in Educational Leadership, November 2020 (Vol. 78, #3, pp. 14-18).
· Additional post-election support and resources can be found on The Commons.
As always, we recommend you allow your students to talk when they need to so that they can express their thoughts and fears in a safe space. Our Safe2Tell hotline is available if kids need to let us know about things that concern them in their lives and community. Social-Emotional Learning has never been more essential. Please take care of yourself -- both your mental and physical well-being.