Monday, Nov. 7, 2016 | 2 a.m.
After spending the past two years living and working in Las Vegas, I have two perspectives to lend to this election: as a public high school teacher in the Clark County School District and as Miss Nevada 2015. I have experienced firsthand the problems facing our nation’s school system and the everyday struggles our students face academically, financially and, in some cases, emotionally.
Students deserve better but are in a system that requires structural reform to ensure equal opportunity for all. There are no easy solutions to the challenges we face, but we can address them in a way that will be both constructive and beneficial to our kids in the long term. We will need leaders committed to improving conditions for all students at the local, state and federal levels.
This is why I could not be more proud to stand firmly behind Hillary Clinton. Of the two major-party presidential candidates, she has a track record to address systemic issues in our education system. Her plans to address education include elevating the profession of teaching by supporting higher pay, investing in school infrastructure, dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline and ensuring that every student in America receives a high-quality education, regardless of their ZIP code.
This Tuesday, the choice could not be more clear. Donald Trump’s alarming comments and behavior toward women are not the only factors that disqualify him from serving as president. As an educator who knows how impressionable our children are, the idea that Trump could serve in the highest office in the land and use that platform to influence our children terrifies me. We have already seen reports and evidence of the “Trump Effect” in our schools, where bullying and increased rates of hate speech have occurred among students. This is simply unacceptable, and we cannot allow this to become a norm in our country.
As Miss Nevada my platform was “Every Day Counts: Improving School Attendance.” As a public figure I knew children across the state were looking up to me, so I did my best to serve as a role model and inspire students to be all they could be. My decision to participate in pageants provided me with a platform to empower women and espouse the values of mutual respect and generosity. So when reports surfaced that Trump used his pageant business to degrade and objectify women, I was deeply dismayed and personally offended. We need a president who will uplift women and girls and inspire children everywhere to treat one another with the respect we all deserve. Only one candidate has demonstrated that she will bring us together and inspire us to aim higher, and that candidate is Hillary Clinton.
The stakes could not be higher in November, and I am reminded that this consequential decision could affect lives for years to come. We will make a decision that will determine whether we believe it is important to empower our families with the tools to succeed through a solid educational foundation and affordable and high-quality child care. With the future of our children and our country in mind, I will proudly cast my vote for Clinton.
Katherine Kelley is a former high school math teacher and Miss Nevada 2015.