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By Eric Dory
June 1, 2018
Recently, I went to a gubernatorial forum cohosted by Children’s Defense Fund-California, The Children’s Partnership and The Chronicle of Social Change. Not only was I there, I was lucky enough to ask the final question to three of the candidates running for governor of California – Antonio Villaraigosa, Delaine Eastin and John Chiang. Although I have been to political events before, I have never had any important role or been to one focused on children so I never really paid attention. But that night, I did.
I remember the candidates talking about health care, poverty and juvenile justice. But what really intrigued me was what they were saying about education. I think educating children is the most important issue there is. Kids are the future! If we aren’t taught well, what will this country be like? Adults – who are kids now – won’t know how to get a job, they will not have any life skills, and they won’t know how to take care of themselves, their families or their communities.
There are so many problems preventing children from getting the best education they can. For starters, some teachers don’t understand their students’ needs; some schools don’t have enough books or resources to provide to the students; and some people who work at schools discriminate against students for the way they look, act and dress. This results in kids not learning what they need in order to succeed in school or life. I have a friend who got held back because he had a substitute teacher for the entire school year. The substitute teacher just let students play around all day. That is not okay because in the end, the students are the ones who suffer.
I’m glad that the candidates expressed that their top priority is improving the lives of kids across the state. Chiang said he supported free community college and making college affordable. Villaraigosa said he would stand up for students who are homeless. And Eastin promised to put kids first again by focusing on education and child development. All of these will be positive impacts on California if accomplished. I just hope all of the candidates, even those who were not in attendance, follow through on what they say. And even if they don’t become governor, still make children their priority because everyone can make a difference – kid or adult, governor or not.
Participating in this forum was a very good experience for me. From coming up with my question to answering questions from reporters at the end, it taught me about how much power people have in a community because we are the ones who vote. It taught me how much power governors have; and it even taught me how to speak in front of a lot of people. I feel like there should be more of these community events, especially ones where youth can participate and voice their concerns about things like education and others issues we care about because KIDS ARE THE FUTURE.
Eric Dory is 11-years-old and lives in South LA