School election week. And why is that? | Arkansas Blog

Monday, September 14, 2015

School election week. And why is that?

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2015 at 8:23 AM

The element of the Walton Family Foundation/Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation plan for Arkansas schools with the most chance of passage — because it's nominally cost-free — is the recommendation to move school elections from September (tomorrow this year) to the general election date.

Conservative have long carried a torch for this idea. Participation in school elections is small because mostly only those who care turn out.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial page — the major mouthpiece for the Walton school agenda because Publisher Walter Hussman shares it — naturally lauded the idea today. In the process, it baldly misstated what this is all about. It boiled opposition to the idea down to this:

The unions will hate such a move. They like it when their people vote, and nobody else. That way they can hand-pick the school board.

This is very nearly dishonest.

First. Unions? Plural?

There is in an Arkansas a single organized labor organization, the Arkansas Education Association, that collects dues from members and works in the interest of members and education. It has never functioned as a union — negotiating contracts — in more than three or four school districts. It has been most effective in Little Rock and the Pulaski County Special School District. The Pulaski districts are everybody's favorite boogeymen. Small point: The union was thrown out by the state after it took over Pulaski County. For now the state is willing to talk to the Little Rock union about pay, but it's pretty clear the days of any sort of meaningful discussion of working conditions are over. And, small point, there's no school board here anyway.

I"d challenge the Democrat-Gazette to name three districts out of more than 200 where "unions" have influenced school elections in the last year in Arkansas outside of Pulaski County.

Of much more interest to the plutocrats is the other main agenda item at school elections — property taxes. There is a belief — an article of faith among management (school superintendents and school boards) — that September school elections are more amenable to school taxes because they are contested by people with interests in the schools. They fear general election tax proposals before  a generally anti-tax populace (moreso now than ever before). This is precisely why the conservatives want broader participation, to increase the chances for electoral defeat of taxes. (It manages to happen plenty anyway.)

Unions? No, that's not what this is about.

These school elections aren't secret by the way. If people don't vote, why should the date be blamed rather than those who simply chose to stay home?

PS — I said the school election date change was nominally cost-free. There's a cost in enhancing the chances of withering tax support for schools. Decaying facilities, lower pay for staff, fewer educational extras (elective courses, extracurricular enhancements) for students. And, then, if the real public schools get degraded enough, you can bet there's a Walton grant handy tor a charter school operator to step into the void. What other reason could there be for including this in the education wish list?

Tags: ,


Favorite

Comments (11)

Showing 1-11 of 11

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-11 of 11

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Former senators, including two Arkansans, warn of 'dangerous' political period

    Forty-four former U.S. senators, including David Pryor and Blanche Lincoln, have signed a letter published as an op-ed in the Washington Post warning of dangerous political times in the country.
    • Dec 11, 2018
  • Arkansas group joins suit over concentrated animal feeding operations

    White River Waterkeeper, an Arkansas group based in Harrison, has joined seven other groups in a federal lawsuit in Washington that aims to stop a U.S. Agriculture Department policy that exempts industrial animal operations that receive federal loans from undergoing an environmental review or providing notice of their operations to neighbors.
    • Dec 11, 2018
  • Proposal coming to end teacher fair dismissal law for all of LR School District

    It took a Freedom of Information Act request (by me and at least one other) to shake loose Education Czar Johnny Key's previously secret plan to ask for law waivers in his operation of the state-run Little Rock School District. On the table will be a motion to be presented by Board member Dianne Zook, a long-standing critic of the district, to waive the teacher fair dismissal law for ALL Little Rock school teachers.
    • Dec 10, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Presidential thriller, co-author Bill Clinton, coming to bookstores in 2018

    June 2018 is the expected publication date for a novel collaboration by former President Bill Clinton and crime writer James Patterson.
    • May 9, 2017
  • ADEQ denies C&H Hog Farm permit

    The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has denied a new permit for the C&H Hog Farms' concentrated animal feeding operation near Mount Judea (Newton County). This is a big and somewhat surprising victory for critics who have viewed C&H's large-scale pig farm and the pig waste it generates as an existential threat to the Buffalo National River.
    • Jan 10, 2018
  • Police identify two women found fatally shot on Chicot Road

    Little Rock police have identified two women found dead of gunshot wounds in an SUV parked next to a vacant trailer in a mobile home park at 11500 Chicot Road.
    • May 16, 2017

Slideshows

  • Arkansas vs Ole Miss at War Memorial stadium in Little Rock, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. After leading for much of the game, Arkansas lost 37-33 when Ole Miss scored the game winning Touchdown with less that 2 minutes left. 
  • Margaret Clark Adventure Park
    New sculptures, preschoolers play area dedicated in Riverfront Park in Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation