Why do I plan to be a pro-education voter on Tuesday? To be a part of the change.

Being a first-generation American, exercising my civil right to vote is a necessity. As we have heard repeatedly, every vote matters. When voting I do not only take into consideration my own political views, but I also take into account the millions of immigrants and foreign-born citizens living in the U.S. who are unable to vote but who are readily impacted by the actions of the elected officials in their communities. It is also important to vote for candidates who are taking action to address social inequities, such as reducing the opportunity gaps in educational quality and attainment.

Within the state of North Carolina itself, we see a large gap in the allocation of resources and quality of education that students are receiving throughout the state. I say this from personal experience. I grew up in Morganton, a small growing town in North Carolina, and have seen first-hand the impact of this gap in terms of my transition to a 4-year university. Although I had excelled at my high school, Patton High School, and thought I was going to be excelling in college at the same level and that simply did not happen. That first year, I struggled immensely with the college classes and looking back, I know that I was not in any way prepared for these classes and my work was not up to par. I know that my teachers in high school did their best with the resources they had but it was the state who had failed us both. In the end, I was able to adapt and learn to become the student I knew I was capable of being.

Unfortunately, this is not a singular case as there are many students who face the same situation and have been failed by the education system in the state and country. The quality of education ranges drastically from rural to urban cities and this need to be reformed for the benefit of future students. Every child is entitled to a fair and equitable education, yet these opportunity gaps persist. Our country is limiting the potential of underserved students by making them feel inept in this transition from high school to a higher-educational institution. This is why I’m inspired by the work of a community-led coalition (made up of student leaders, parents, educators and community advocates) called Communities for the Education of Every Child NC (Every Child NC), whose mission is to fight for adequate and equitable funding for all public school students.

Communities for the Education of Every Child NC is a community-led, statewide coalition of organizations, parents, teachers, and students who advocate for every child’s constitutional right to a sound basic education.

We believe that equal access to quality leadership, teachers, programming, and services will ensure that race, ethnicity, economic background, regional location, ability, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status, or language are not barriers to educational opportunity.

Join us by signing the Advocate Pledge and learn more about this work. During these last few days before the November 3rd election, it is more important than ever to vote for the politicians and representatives who are dedicated to transforming the educational system of the country. I highly encourage everyone who is able to, to vote and make your voices heard. We must address inequities now for the benefit of future generations. Be a part of the change.

Leslie is a student at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying Public Policy and Global Studies. Leslie is volunteering with Communities for the Education of Every Child NC through her Apples Service-Learning Internship.

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