Go vote and then read this post.

“Volunteering,” someone once said, “is the ultimate exercise in democracy.”

Why? Because when you choose to volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.

You join with others to help creating a community of hope, one in which all children can fulfill their promise. By giving just one hour a week of your time you help students in Kalamazoo Public Schools:

Stay and succeed in school
Improve in math or reading
Gain self-esteem and confidence
Have food for the weekend
Be ready for college and a career
Fulfill his or her Promise

Did you know that you are one of 43,000 community volunteers throughout the CIS network who, in 2016-2017, donated your time to 1.56 million students served by 131 affiliated organizations in 25 states and D.C.?

Thank you for casting your support of our 12,000+ children.

Interested in joining forces with our fabulous volunteers? You can change the life of a young person right here in your community by signing up today

Cast Your Vote For Kids

Remember to vote today!

As Dr. Pierce said, “This may be the most important vote of your lifetime. This is a big choice. Really big. It ranks up there with what cereal you should eat in the morning.”

I guess I should mention that Dr. Pierce wasn’t referring to the 2012 elections being held throughout the United States. As Parkwood’s Behavioral Specialist, Davonne Pierce served as moderator for a recent debate held in the school’s gym. He was referring to the decision facing all Parkwood-Upjohn Elementary students, staff and families: what book should represent the school?  The two nominees were Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone vs. Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the first in the series.

CIS Site Coordinator Jody Sikkema credits Maureen Cartmill, Title One Tutor, with coming up with the idea and deepening students’ understanding of the election process. “It’s a great way,” she said, “to involve families and the students are more enriched from the experience.”

Because our son attends Parkwood, my family has been paying close attention to this particular campaign. If we (both citizens and politicians) approached campaigns more like Parkwood students, we would be an even stronger country. By seeing how well the elementary students conducted themselves, I have learned three lessons I want to share with you.

Manners count.

How we conduct ourselves with our friends and opponents matters. Just because we believe our book is better than yours doesn’t mean the other book isn’t a fine book worth reading, too. Heated, yet healthy, debates were going on at lunchtime and on Parkwood’s playground, yet there was a noticeable absence of fingerpointing and smearing the other side. Maybe if we played more on each other’s turfs, like the Parkwood students do, we would be more respectful of each other’s opinions.

As grownups, we can get wrapped up in the winning. The most important part of voting isn’t necessarily who we elect to public office. What matters most is what they do once they get there. As citizens many of us have already moved on to the next contentious election.

Neatness counts, too.

Principal Carol Steiner encouraged the children to run clean campaigns and they did. Parkwood students didn’t litter their hallways with sloppy signs, careless comments, and messy truths woven with lies. We shouldn’t either. They drew beautiful pictures, wrote legibly and asked their fellow students to “Vote For Our Book, Please!”

Go simple and save.

At the end of October, the Center for Responsive Politics projected that the cost of this 2012 elections will exceed six billion dollars. Say what? SIX BILLION??!!! I can’t even wrap my head around that figure.

We could save a lot of money (and perhaps divert some of it into education) if only we  rolled up our sleeves, pulled out the poster board, crayons and washable markers. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see home made signs by politicians hanging in the entrance way to a grocery store or on the doors of a public library instead of invading our homes through television, computer, radio, and mail?

As this election is shaping up to be the most expensive election in U.S. history, I’ve been gathering ingredients to bake brownies to help raise funds for my son’s school. I’ve been thinking how easy it seems to spend six billion dollars on elections whereas public education in our country struggles to get the stable and adequate funding it needs to educate our youth. Even if my brownies are a bestseller, they won’t, no matter how fabulous they taste, rake in the kind of dough that our kids and their schools deserve.