Oakman School News

Press and Guide Article: Oakman Elementary PTA Registers Voters

pta voting




By Katie Hetrick
Press & Guide Newspapers

DEARBORN — Oakman Elementary PTA is bringing social studies lessons home for students by making sure their parents and other community members are registered to vote.

“We were able to register 10 in probably an hour-and-a-half open house,” said PTA Treasurer Amged Monyidden. More than 200 others stopped by to check whether they were registered, she said.

“That was a big accomplishment for us to have more than 200 people,” she said. Oakman Elementary has about 300 students.

Any voter can see if they are registered by visiting www.Michigan.gov/vote. Those who are not registered can print a registration form and send it, along with a copy of their driver’s license or state identification, into their local city clerk. Oct. 7 is the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 5 general election.

Monyidden said the PTA got the registration idea indirectly from Principal Radewin Awada.

“He’s always empowered me that I do have a voice,” she said. Allowing parents to have input in their school and encouraging them to work to make a difference inspired the PTA to ensure their community has input in the elections.

And November could be an important election for the schools.

Dearborn Public Schools is asking voters to approve a $76 million SMART bond to pay for security upgrades, renovations, repairs, technology, buses and other items the district needs.

“Schools can’t tell parents to vote yes, but PTA can,” said Nadia Dakroub, Oakman School’s parent liaison. PTA representatives were hoping to sign up a few more voters at a Title 1 meeting Thursday morning.

Oakman, on Dearborn’s east end, has about 95 percent of students who are English Language Learners and 94 percent from low-income homes, according to the school’s website. Most families speak Arabic at home.

Dakroub applauded Monyidden and PTA Secretary Mahera Jadallah for spearheading the voter registration drive.

“It’s really to get citizens a voice,” Dakroub said.

Monyidden agreed.

She said last November only about 15,000 of Dearborn’s 90,000 residents voted.

“That wasn’t something we like to see, 15,000 people deciding what life is going to be like for 90,000,” she said.

The August primary had 12,000 people cast a ballot out of 61,000 registered voters, according to the city clerk’s office. The Census Bureau estimates the city has more than 96,000 residents.

A few times a year the Dearborn City Clerk’s office gets a packet of voter registration forms from a group registration drive, said Cindy Galea, elections supervisor. The only stipulation for someone registering by mail is that they show up in person the first time they vote, she said. All voters need to show identification at the polls.

Ballots are printed only in English, but citizens can bring a translator with them to help, even if it is a child, she said. She also tries to hire Arabic speaking poll workers for east end precincts so they can help translate for voters.

Oakman PTA’s registration drive is not because of the SMART bond, but an attempt to change the culture and get more eligible adults to vote, Monyidden said.

“Not only our parents, but trying to get our community out and tell them how important the vote is,” she said.

Part of low attendance could be a cultural thing, especially for women, she said. In some Middle Eastern countries women are not allowed to vote.

Oakman fifth-graders hold a mock election every year so students can learn about voting, but that is not enough, Monyidden said.

“We teach our students something, but as parents we lead by example,” she said.

Katie Hetrick covers Dearborn Public Schools. She can be reached at katie_hetrick@hotmail.com.