San Francisco has an opportunity to support a ballot a measure that would allow all parents of children in our school system to vote in school board elections, regardless of immigration status. (Mike Koozmin/2015 S.F. Examiner file photo)

Giving all parents a voice in their children’s education

This November, we will be asked to choose between two historic candidates for president. One candidate is a former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State, who would be the first woman to hold the position. The other candidate is the most anti-immigrant bigot nominated by a major political party in recent American history.

When Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, he reiterated his agenda to build a wall to keep immigrants out of our country. During his campaign, he has referred to Latinos as criminals, proposed banning Muslim-Americans and shown his disdain for millions of immigrants across our nation who seek a better life.

As the son of immigrants, I am proud to represent San Francisco, a city that has provided a home for people around the world regardless of how they arrived. Our city has not forgotten, as Trump has, that our country’s great past was built by immigrants, and America’s future depends on their success.

On our next Election Day, San Francisco has an opportunity to vote against hate and for immigrants.

I want to thank the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for placing on the November ballot a measure that I have championed for years, which would allow all parents of children in our school system to vote in school board elections, regardless of immigration status.

In San Francisco, one in three children has a noncitizen parent at home. Since our elected school board members govern the San Francisco Unified School District, a significant segment of our parents are denied a voice in choosing who will make the most important decisions impacting their children’s education.

This is why I am working with Supervisor Eric Mar, the Mission Economic Development Agency and a broad coalition of immigrant, parent and education organizations to increase parental involvement.

Research shows parental engagement is a key element to improving our schools and raising student achievement. And when one group of parents is not allowed to engage in improving our schools, not only do their children lose out, but all children suffer.

San Francisco would not be the first city in the nation to allow all parents to vote. In recent decades, New York City, Chicago and towns in Maryland and Massachusetts have permitted immigrant voting. Noncitizen voting is constitutional, as long as it is authorized by states and localities. In fact, for 150 years — from 1776 until the 1920s — immigrant voting was a common practice in many states, based on the civic goal of integrating immigrants into local communities.

As Trumpist rhetoric continues to spew xenophobia, we have an obligation to stand up against that national tide and for inclusivity. I want my son to grow up in a city that he can be proud of and to attend schools where all of his classmates’ parents are involved in their success. Please join San Franciscans in saying no to hate and yes to a voice for all parents and children on Nov. 8.

David Chiu is a Democratic Assemblymember representing eastern San Francisco.

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