On November 4, Our Children Will Be Watching

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By Dr. Susan Salcido, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools

On November 4, the day after this extraordinary election season culminates, our children will be watching us.  

None of us knows for certain what the results will be, but we can be sure that many will be elated, others may be despondent, and still others filled with emotions somewhere in between.  The day will present myriad opportunities for youth to observe how we react and what we say, along with opportunities for adults to articulate what the results mean to us personally, for our neighborhoods, schools, our state, and nation.

What do we want our children to see as we react to local, state, and national results?

Will we as voters be able to say to our own children and grandchildren, to our siblings and cousins, to our friends and neighbors, that we did everything we could to express our voices, our values, and our beliefs through our votes, and that our decisions were developed with care, intention, and time? 

Can we say we did all we could to take part in the process of making our voices heard?  Importantly, did we show young people that we participated fully and responsibly to support the democratic process? Are we prepared to answer a question that many young people ask:  Does our vote matter?

As parents and educators, we continually praise children for being kind, thoughtful, and courteous to others, which are essential qualities to help society thrive.  How do we square that kindness and consideration with the contentious disagreement and discourse that is so rampant on social media and displayed in the mass media, especially during election times?

Young children today are deeply immersed in what some might consider to be adult matters.  They see yard signs, posts, ads on TV, flyers in the mail, and social media. They hear people talking all around them.  Conversations these days seem to focus on COVID or politics.  Children are wrapped inside these conversations, hearing them clearly and often.  Talking about the elections and results can provide valuable teaching and learning opportunities as we recognize that these are not only adult matters, but life matters, and worth the time to process together.

We don’t know the outcome of the elections, or if the results will even be fully known on November 4.  How will we begin to process and express the intensity we may feel? There is no single right answer, but I’ll share some thoughts both as a superintendent of schools and a mom of children, one of whom will be able to vote in the next presidential election.

Let’s reinforce for our children that our voices develop over time, which means we can use our time right now to learn about issues that may well be on a ballot in the future.  The more we learn, the better informed our votes will be.

The privilege that we have as voters comes with the responsibility to continue to learn, vote, and build our internal reservoir of information and knowledge. 

It is vital to share with young people that investing time and energy in civics, citizenship, and participating in democracy is important; our votes absolutely count and have real life consequences that affect us deeply and personally.

Whatever we say or do, however elated or disappointed, our children will be watching, and we are being provided with an important opportunity to respond to circumstances of immeasurable importance beyond our individual control. 

Though voting is a personal exercise, the outcome is bigger than ourselves; it will affect our families, our communities, and our country significantly.  The way we react, and how we channel our very legitimate emotions into concrete actions for the future, will shape the next generation of voters.


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Shame Oct 30, 2020 07:18 AM
On November 4, Our Children Will Be Watching

I hope this gets distributed to those who need to see it. The thief’s and those who promote violence should be arrested immediately. We will not tolerate distraction in our town. So please send this as many places as possible.

Andrea Smith Oct 30, 2020 08:31 AM
On November 4, Our Children Will Be Watching

Children have been watching since 2016 and sadly the damage is already done in some cases depending on what they observed - whether it was hate, anger, rage towards others, or a different more healthy reaction. Can't really undo the last 4 years.

Basicinfo805 Oct 30, 2020 09:02 AM
On November 4, Our Children Will Be Watching

All true, but dear Superintendent - the children have also been watching our local school districts and teachers let them down by not making the necessary changes and sacrifices to get them back to school. Let's hope voters take that message to the polls.

Michele Oct 30, 2020 09:43 AM
On November 4, Our Children Will Be Watching

November 4 is not the magic day when all is known. Officials have stressed that it will take time for counting, and we will need to remain patient for days or even weeks following the elections. Results from ballots cast in person on November 3 will likely skew to the GOP candidate, followed by absentee ballot tabulation, much of which will be Democrats.

Lucky 777 Oct 30, 2020 11:06 AM
On November 4, Our Children Will Be Watching

BASICINIFO805 has it right, how DARE the School Superintendent admonish others to set a good example when the public schools have utterly failed our local children. She continues to collect her big salary, and look forward to a lifetime pension, all the while deciding to not open the schools and causing serious harm to the intellectual and emotional lives of thousands of local children and families. Shame shame.

Lorax Oct 30, 2020 10:18 PM
On November 4, Our Children Will Be Watching

Yes, Children are very astute. and want to be involved. I wish more adults had the insite and common sense alot of children do that tend to see things as they are and call it as they see it.
I was recently campaigning for the challengers to our incumbents and a young boy rode up on his bike and just quietly looked at my sign. I said Hi, how are you doing? he said ok in a clearly board tone. Rather than ask him why he wasn't in his zoom lesson, to engage him I said I'm realy sorry you can't be in school right now. He responded" its really hurting us" and looked down. Looking at my sign, he then asked "Who are thoses guys" I told him Elrawd and Brian who are running for school board to get kids back in school and they disagree that our schools are still closed even though all the private schools have been open now a few months.
He then asked me " can you sign up to vote online "and I told him most likely his parents if they are registered to vote would have recieved a ballot, papers to vote that came in the mail this year because of Covid-19. I asked him how old he was, he said he was in SB Jr High and said he hopes these guys get in because we need help, its terrible.
I told him thanks for talking to me, Its because I care about kids I am standing on this busy corner looking like an idiot holding a sign to get the word out to vote for Elrawd and Brian who will put kids above politics. He politely wished me good by and rode off with a sweet smile, someone cared enough to listen and try to help. Children are our future we must protect them, make your vote count, we need change in the Santa Babara School District, any 3 but the incumbent Sisters!

RHS Oct 31, 2020 06:18 PM
On November 4, Our Children Will Be Watching

Lorax, I hesitate to do this but cannot resist. If you are advocating for a better education system it would be grand if you would learn to spell.

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