As I write this column there are only 40 days left until Election Day 2008. With the presidency of the United States in the balance and numerous state and local elections to be decided, I think we all should be reminded of how important it is for us to exercise our right to vote.
We should remember that our ancestors fought and died for this right that we too often take for granted.
While I am interested and concerned about the outcome of all of the seats being contested, I am very attentive to how they might directly or indirectly impact public education. It is my fervent belief that public education is the backbone of our democracy, and an educated electorate is critical to its ongoing success.
With all of this in mind, I am puzzled when I hear of recent surveys that indicate that approximately one-third of all certified teachers in South Carolina are not registered to vote. According to state census records as of 2006, our state population was 4,321,249 and, of that number, 2,365,573, or approximately 55 percent, are registered to vote. In York County, our population as of 2007 was 208,827 and, of that number 111,806 are now registered to vote, or approximately 54 percent.
Accordingly, I want to encourage teachers and school staff members from York County to be certain they are registered to vote and then exercise that right on Nov. 4. Allow me to also encourage all citizens of York County to register to vote if they have not already done so, and then exercise their rights as well. The deadline to register is Oct. 4, 2008. The voter registration office is open daily between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. in York.
Although I am interested in seeing individuals who truly support public education elected to office, I am well aware that, as a superintendent, I cannot and would not tell people for whom they should vote. I can, however, encourage people to make informed decisions.
Of this I am sure: The majority of citizens in York County know and understand the importance of public education to the future of our county. This election is about a great deal more than just public education. It is about the future direction of our state and nation.
So, the message to all teachers, parents, community members, and citizens is this: Register to vote and exercise your right on Nov. 4!