As we begin another school year, I am reminded of a quote by Jonathan Kozol who wrote, “A dream does not die on its own. A dream is vanquished by the choices ordinary people make about real things in their own lives.”

We have many students who come to us with dreams for a brighter future. As an educator, I believe it is my responsibility to ensure conditions in our schools are such that children’s dreams can be nurtured and fulfilled; but I also believe that we, as a community, must make the right choices to ensure students reach their full potential.

The recent immigration debate has sparked many to comment that we cannot even take care of our own children, let alone take care of those from elsewhere. My question is not can we take care of our children; my question is do we choose to take care of our most precious commodity?

Whatever we may think of our current government, and regardless of party affiliation, the choices we make when electing officials matter.

As a public school district, we use every opportunity to teach and encourage our students to actively participate in our democratic process. Yet as adults, for various reasons, the majority of us choose not to exercise our fundamental right to vote.

I encourage us all to actively engage in the upcoming elections. We must know the issues and the candidates who want to serve. Each vote counts and should be based on the facts and on what we believe will keep our community strong.

As an educator, I also ask that we vote for those who have proven to be strong supporters of public education.

It may seem odd that I send this message as we are returning to school. But I believe it is an important message since so much of what happens in schools depends on who is elected. In the past, I have asked for civility in our political process, encouraging politicians to behave in a dignified manner. It is unfortunate that the rhetoric and name calling continue; but I trust our voters, the ordinary people of Arizona, to remain civilized and do what is right for public education.

It is a new school year. And with a new year brings new hope. Hope that our students do not fall victim to political positions that deteriorate a child’s right to a quality education. Hope that we will stand together to advocate for our teachers. And hope in a properly funded public school system.

For an enlightened citizenry is critical to a free America and key to Arizona’s future success. Let us make the right choices to ensure a child’s dream is not “vanquished by choices ordinary people make…”

• Dr. Kenneth R. Baca is superintendent of the Tempe Union High School District.

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