Deitra Matthews (right) with South Carolina Superintendent of Education, Molly Spearman (center) and SCAN Mobilization Manager Deborah DePaoli (left). Deitra and Deborah have attended campaign events for multiple candidates to encourage the future leaders to invest in kids.
My all-time favorite quote is, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” At a time when the rights of women and African Americans were deemed unimportant, abolitionist and social activist Frederick Douglass coined this quote to address many issues that enveloped the experiences of children. The message in this quote is intensely relevant today – particularly in the state of South Carolina.
Today, education in South Carolina continues to fall behind most states in the country, and some parents (i.e. voters) have begun to see the improvement of the education system as a lost cause. Over the years, voters have pleaded with their elected leaders to tackle this growing problem. Unfortunately, voters have not seen much gain. Fully aware of the new and troubling variables that have begun to suffocate most school systems across the country, I believe that there is a solution in South Carolina.
There is always a solution, and the solution is in what Frederick Douglass tirelessly fought for more than 160 years ago – our right to vote. Right now, we need voters to be engaged and to participate in the electoral process. It is paramount to many issues candidates address in their political platforms.
One of the easiest ways to truly do something to build up our education system is to advocate for affordable, quality child care, especially in our underserved and under-resourced communities in South Carolina. As a mother who had the privilege of choosing to stay home during the early years of my children’s lives, I often empathize with those families who do not have that same choice. I have met many mothers and families who have to depend on affordable child care because they MUST work to provide the basic necessities for their families. But just because child care is affordable does not guarantee that it is quality care.
During this 2018 election season, education has been a critical issue that South Carolina candidates are promising to address. That is exactly why we must vote this November! Local and state elections impact our lives. We have to hold our elected leaders accountable by getting them to say specifically, on record, that affordable and quality child care is central to building strong, independent and productive citizens.
It is time for voters to require elected leaders to put people over politics and people over party. I believe that it is time for voters to make elections in November personal. It is time for voters to give up complacency and become active participants. It is finally time for us to prove that our votes are valuable.
Tackling our failing educational system in South Carolina will be a tough feat; but it will be worth it. If a society genuinely wants to improve its social, economic and educational issues, then it must invest in its children.
Editor’s Note: This blog is part of a series highlighting why it’s important to vote in the midterm elections, written from a state-by-state perspective.