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August 7: VOTE!

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One of the reasons we pay property taxes to support our public schools is they’re supposed to teach us about our duties as citizens as the United States.

Tuesday, Aug. 7, is an election day. More than a third of eligible citizens are not registered to vote, and only about half of those registered will vote. If we’re lucky.

Seems to me the schools need to make more of an effort with that citizenship training.

Be that as it may, it is voting day.


And — while you’re at it — please vote for moderate Republicans in Kansas who will not be so likely to decimate funding for public education. Oh, and if you’re voting for school board candidates, try to choose someone who understands that science and religion are not necessarily matter and anti-matter that cancel each other out. It is perfectly possible to be religious and understand the importance of teaching science in the public schools. Real science, not creationism. There’s a place for the teaching of creationism, and that’s at home and in church.

Oh — and Missourians — don’t fall for that Amendment 2.

First of all, it’s sponsored by Rep. Mike McGhee, whose largest campaign donor last time he ran for office was the Imagine Schools Missouri Region. This spring, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education had to shut down all of the Imagine Schools in St. Louis because the kids weren’t learning and the money wasn’t being handled right. Let’s just say that the representative doesn’t keep very good company when it comes to education, and he wants you to vote for this amendment.

Second, students already have the right to pray in schools, so the amendment is redundant. It’s teachers and staff members — in their capacity as government employees — who may not endorse any religion. The whole separation of church and state thing, you know. But when they take off their teacher superhero uniforms and emerge from the schoolhouse, they’re private citizens and can pray all they want to.

Third, have you read the thing? The actual text of this proposed Amendment 2 we’re going to be voting on today? Not the summary that’s on the ballot:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure:

  • That the right of Missouri citizens to express their religious beliefs should not be infringed;
  • That school children have the right to pray and acknowledge God voluntarily in their schools; and
  • That all public schools shall display the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.

I don’t know who wrote the summary, but it doesn’t summarize all the high points. In particular, the ballot language doesn’t mention that if you vote for Amendment 2, you’d be voting for language saying “that no student shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate his or her religious beliefs.” Suddenly a whole lot of high school students who weren’t especially religious before are going to be getting religion right about exam time. “You can’t make me study this! It’s against my religion.”

Fourth, this amendment is a lawsuit regarding separation of church and state that’s just aching to happen. The ACLU is already making noises about taking this one to court if it passes. And if you’re interested in fiscal responsibility during difficult economic times, you might want to be a little concerned about the amount of taxpayer dollars lately that have been spent defending lawsuits resulting from poorly written state legislation.

Fifth …

I could go on, but you probably are too excited about getting out to vote today to read anymore.

So I will summarize.

  • Vote for candidates who will support public school funding.
  • Vote for school board candidates who are more interested in educating our students than on playing political games with the science curriculum.
  • Vote “no” on Amendment 2.

But — above all else — please vote. If you don’t, your high school American Government teacher will give you a retroactive “F,” and then you’ll have to go back to high school and do it all over again until you get it right. And I hear the bullies are a lot tougher these days then they used to be.

P.S. According to Ballotpedia, Rep. McGhee only raised about $34,000 when he last ran for office in 2010, and $5,000 of that was from Imagine Schools. Two years later, he voted to authorize expansion of charter schools. I’m thinking that if a group of concerned citizens would like to pass the hat, they could raise another $5,000 and ask him to drop the whole Amendment 2 thing. Whadya think?


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About jwmartinez

JoLynne is a journalist and educator. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Park University and is certified to teach high school journalism and English. Former employment includes work for Cable News Network and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in addition to freelancing for clients such as the Kansas City Star and The Pitch.

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