The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Speaker teaches importance of democracy, actions

By Soleman Hakeem/reporter

With concern for current political turmoil and problems from poverty, education, environment and health care, it’s time for Texans to put the remote down and address issues, a speaker told South Campus students April 26.

Political activist Maria Antonia Medellin presented Democracy Is Not a Spectator Sport as part of her lifelong goal to “shake people out of apathy.”

“Our leaders at the state and national level are dealing with hot-button cultural issues instead of real problems,” she said.

Before the main event, Mary Staley and Nick Spears, South Campus students, were asked to share their concerns.

Spears said he was concerned about the discrepancy of educational funding in urban and suburban areas, gas companies drilling in urban environments and releasing dangerous toxins and ways to provide better education to minorities.

Medellin began with statistics: Texas ranks 43rd in high school graduates, 45th in SAT scores and fourth in the number of children living in poverty.

“Whatever your issues or concerns are, there is an organization to help you figure how to best use your resources to bring social and political change,” she said.

Texas also is falling behind in environmental obligation. Medellin said the state ranks at the top in amount of hazardous waste generated, the amount of toxic chemicals released into the water supply and the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air.

“It’s our duty to connect with our leaders in office and get our message across,” she said.

Medellin said civic participation has decreased. People are just not turning out to vote with Texas ranking 43rd in voter registration and 45th in overall voter turnout.

The more educated the public is, the more they turn up to vote, student Jennifer Crosby said.

The state government is using a shortfall solution by cutting budgets for education, social service programs such as SCHIP and Medicaid, child abuse prevention programs and closing nursing homes, Medellin said.

These budget cuts will eradicate many enrichment programs such as ESL/bilingual education, theater and arts, she said.

Massive numbers of teachers are being laid off because of budget cuts, Medellin said. Dallas and Fort Worth ISDs combined are eliminating hundreds of teachers, which means larger class sizes and more hectic educational environments, she said.

Medellin said students could go to www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us to find and identify candidates and issues related to an individual.

“Facebook and Twitter can be powerful political tools to bring social change,” she said. “It’s also important to make alliances with the social group.”

Making allies with these social groups can make the process more efficient and can produce better results for both parties, Medellin said.

She uses her political bags (logo) and buttons to find new recruits for her causes.

Being a lobbyist doesn’t have to be a stigma, she said. Lobbyists should proofread their signs to avoid media exploitation or unwanted media coverage that deviates away from the main cause, she said.

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