What it Means for Democracy to Win

The following was taken from ATF President Dr. Ellen Bernstein’s Column in the ATF Union News #3 Nov. 2022 which is packed full of useful information. Click here to read it.


I don’t think I realized how worried I was about the 2022 midterm election until it was over. Worried that the progress we have made funding public education in our state would stagnate or go backward. Worried for our democracy. And worried that if democracy lost in the mid-terms, the future of our public schools would be in jeopardy.

We were at a precipice, and it felt like a crazy place to be. Current voters, many of whom were very young (thank you, Gen Z!) made a clear choice between leaders who seed hate and political divisiveness and ones who stand for a collective future, civility, and problem solving.

I don’t think older generations realize how fundamentally angry we are. We’re angry with policies and practices that have set up our lives to be a struggle from day one. We were born into a world where the environment is crumbling, democracy is dying, bigotry is becoming the norm, and we’re angry about it.

Maddie Billet, 20, a sophomore at George Washington University

Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 15,2022

I was outwardly optimistic and inwardly terrified. I thought the specter cast by our past president would motivate voters to stand up for our freedoms. But who knew such a divisive figure would help us to restore democracy by pushing us to the point where we were actually voting for its very existence.

This is a great moment for our country, and for the kids we teach. We must not forget what brought us here, and we must not take democracy for granted as we move forward.

That’s the key: fighting forward. We are delighted that so many friends and allies were re-elected or will join the state legislature for the first time. But we must not be satisfied with a legislature that simply preserves and maintains current gains. We need to keep pushing, keep advancing and keep succeeding. We need MORE support for students, schools, and educators. The outcome of this election gives us an opportunity to make those improvements.

We are on the right path. New Mexico is addressing the educator shortage by raising pay and providing support to new educators who want to join our profession. We have a governor and legislature who have set their sights on improving students’ educational experiences and who know the success of this depends on attracting and retaining a workforce of educators who feel supported and respected.

I also want the elected leaders to have vision for what could be, and what public school must be for our democracy to thrive: education that supports deep student learning and conceptual understanding that equips students to be able to transfer their learning to new situations.

New Mexicans and citizens across the nation voted for democracy. Public schooling is the foundation that will propel us forward and underscore the trust and hope people put into their votes. We want this year’s legislative outcomes to include the support and opportunity for us to rethink “typical” schooling and achieve a more equitable, student-focused education system.  We want, what Randi Weingarten calls, time, tools, and trust to pursue bold initiatives that will help all our kids thrive.When our policies and practices are well-funded and  infused with respect and support for our professionalism, educator shortages will be a thing of the past.

The mid-terms gave us that opportunity. Democracy won. Now, let’s focus on building a world-class education system for all students in our public schools.


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