When my wife and I were getting ready to send our daughter to elementary school in 2020, I started researching our local Dripping Springs Independent School District. I’ve been a technologist working in the area for 11 years but hadn’t paid much attention to the school system until then.
I’m both a believer in and a product of public school systems. However, as I continued my investigations of the district, I wanted to become more engaged so I submitted my name to campaign for the Board of Trustees election.
My candidacy had three basic pillars:
- Be kind. Try to bridge the community divide and support teachers and staff.
- Support STEM and the Arts.
- No discrimination. Provide opportunities for all students.
My opponents in the election ran on a platform with very different priorities:
- Reduce taxes for the community.
- Remove ‘inappropriate books’ and ensure adherence to ‘Christian values.’
- Introduce zero-based budgeting and increase auditing frequency.
I lost the election.
The philosophical differences are obvious. I focused on student development; they prioritized taxpayer preferences.
Throughout the campaign, my opponents attacked the board and me with a partisan script of unsubstantiated issues, i.e., accusations of fraudulent district spending, promotion of CRT, preferential treatment of LBGT, etc. I worked to keep my efforts non-partisan because I felt our election should be about student opportunities, not political agendas. Yet, GOP hotspots in Arizona and Florida funded one of my opponents by over 65%.
Now, just three weeks after the board election, another school shooting occurred at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Parents again are struggling to cope with the heartbreaking loss of children. When Beto O’Rourke asked Governor Abbott what will be done to protect students, the hostile and obscene replies reminded me of many school board meetings and my personal campaign experiences.
My minor journey in politics has taught me two lessons:
1) I’m not a politician.
2) It is not possible to reason with many self-proclaimed conservatives who fervently believe propaganda and deliberate misinformation. There is a constant echo chamber of rage on social media. Compassion towards the dissimilar is rare or nonexistent. Facts are irrelevant; data-driven discussions are useless.
My hope is that caring and sensible people – republicans and democrats, Fox news viewers and MSNBC viewers – will consider what is best for the long-term success of this country and its children. The leaders we vote into positions of power reflect our character and, collectively, the values of the United States of America.
If you are a caring and sensible person, stop allowing destructive agendas to dictate the policies of our nation. Are we a country of short-term and self-focused people, or can we think ahead for what's best for future generations? Can we start with protecting our students and children?
Somehow it feels like we’re at a tipping point. It is beyond time to act. Vote.