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Child Advocates Launch “Chalk the Vote” to Help Educators Engage with Political Process Featured

Written by  Friday, 12 January 2018 10:45
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By  Joe Dorman

 

The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) is launching a new initiative – “Chalk the Vote” – to communicate directly with teachers about policies that impact children and education professionals. Chalk the Vote and OICA are seeking a “block captain” in every school building in Oklahoma. The block captains will receive and share policy updates regarding legislation, relevant state agency rules, nonpartisan electoral information regarding voter engagement and advocacy tools to help teachers engage with lawmakers. The goal is to maximize information, voting and political participation in Oklahoma’s education community.

 

Educators wishing to receive updates about Chalk the Vote or to serve as block captains can sign up at www.oica.org/events/chalk-up-the-vote/

 

Chalk the Vote is co-chaired by two former teachers, Claudia Swisher and Sharon Pyeatt, both from Norman.

 

Pyeatt has worked as both a kindergarten teacher and an assistant professor of early childhood education. She said there is an underappreciation for how hard it can be for teachers to make time to vote.

 

“Voting is more difficult for educators than many people realize,” said Pyeatt. “We get to school early and stay late. We work extremely hard to plan, strategize, individualize, and create learning experiences that will leave our students thinking. This doesn’t happen during the school day; it happens during our free time. If a Chalk the Vote school block captain can help by ensuring absentee ballots are available, or cover bus duty that day, it goes a long way toward making it easier for a teacher to get to his or her polling place.”

 

Swisher, who taught English at Norman High School North, said that children develop an appreciation for the political process when they see their teachers being more engaged.

 

“Just like with reading or math or science, students develop an appreciation for political participation when they see how passionate their teachers are about the subject,” said Swisher. “When teachers are informed, active and engaged, they demonstrate by their actions that voting is a privilege and an honor. Chalk the Vote will help to create an accountability network, a support system and a sounding board for ideas to maximize political engagement from teachers and send a positive message to our students.”

OICA Board Member and Millwood Public Schools Superintendent Cecilia Robinson-Woods said that teachers have the ability to directly impact elections and public policy.

 

“Teachers have the power to make a real difference at the polls,” said Robinson-Woods. “Keeping teachers informed and providing a strategy to ensure their voices are heard can sway elections and directly lead to policies that promote the health and well being of Oklahoma’s children.”

 

About OICA
The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk.

 

Our mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action and changing policy to improve the health, safety and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.“

 

David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

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