Now, more than ever, I find myself thankful for those who resist. Those who remind us of our higher common values. The fact-checkers and truth-tellers. Those who build bridges in communities instead of walls to segregate. The ones who stand up and speak out against injustice.

Where would we be without groups like Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families reminding us that the tax plan now before Congress vastly benefits the most powerful corporations and billionaires among us, at the expense of nearly everyone else?

Lawmakers fund this tax giveaway to the most powerful by eliminating tax deductions for teachers, raising taxes on college students and seniors, and making health care even less affordable. They pay for it with cuts to job training, education and our social safety net. They explode the national debt, leaving the bill to our kids. And they give a loophole to expand dark money in our elections, cut America's green energy investment and end protections for the Arctic National Refuge.

But these facts didn't come out in congressional hearings because they didn't have any. Community groups speaking out is how we've exposed this terrible tax plan.

Thank goodness for the Arkansas Opportunity to Learn Campaign, Rural Community Alliance, Campaign for Grade Level Reading, Forward Arkansas, Arkansas Education Association, Grassroots Arkansas and others who've held the state's feet to the fire for effective improvements in our schools.

The good news is that Arkansas has made major strides in recent years by investing in research-proven reforms like improving our curriculum, raising teacher quality, and expanding pre-K. We have a long way to go, but there is near universal consensus about the next steps among teachers, administrators, school boards, parents, community groups and education experts.

Sadly, big money is driving another education agenda that ignores the data and insists we need radical privatization instead. Never mind that its experiments in other states failed. Never mind that it's diverting attention and resources away from far more effective strategies. Never mind that many of the charter and private schools it advocates for segregate based on race, ability and income.

Thank goodness for the huge cross-section of people who care about quality public education holding the line against much better funded and more connected school privatizers.

And thank goodness for groups like Audubon Arkansas, the Sierra Club and the Citizens Climate Lobby who are telling the truth about climate change.

President Trump and a majority in Congress deny the science that climate change is a massive threat to our future. They deny even as we have record hot year after record hot year, despite record storms, droughts and fires. They deny the economic opportunity of transitioning the American energy sector, leaving us decades behind other countries. But Arkansas policymakers know green energy is good for consumers, our economy and for our planet because we have strong energy advocates.

There are so many more issues where Arkansas grassroots and nonprofit groups are making a huge impact. Concerned Citizens of Monticello Area countering the resurgent KKK with a Love Not Hate campaign. The ACLU going after courts that are criminalizing people for being poor. Concerned Citizens in Prescott working with school leaders to make discipline policy more effective and fair. Health advocates that helped Arkansas maintain our Medicaid expansion — offering life-saving health care to over 300,000 Arkansans. Thank God for the women across the country exposing sexual harassment, and the activists exposing systemic problems with our criminal justice system. The list goes on and on.

I'm privileged to work with many of these leaders and groups at the Arkansas Public Policy Panel and Citizens First Congress. They inspire me daily.

This Saturday, Dec. 16, we are having a day of action. It starts at 11:30 a.m. on the steps of the state Capitol with a rally against the terrible tax plan advancing through Congress. It continues from noon to 4 p.m. with a meeting of the Citizens First Congress to plan next steps on several key issues. And we are having a party from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center to celebrate one another and recharge for the work ahead. Join us. There's lots of room for you in this movement, too.

Bill Kopsky is the executive director of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel.


Sign up for the Daily Update email


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Bill Kopsky

  • 20 years of progress

    An unlikely experiment in grassroots democracy begun 20 years ago in Arkansas today boasts a rich track record of profound improvements to the state's agriculture, civil rights, education, economic, education, election, environmental and health laws.
    • Jun 7, 2018
  • Finding solutions

    One advantage of the current political climate is an opportunity for a new and more honest conversation about race, gender and many other inequities we too often sweep under the carpet.
    • Jan 25, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Seven

    The controversy over the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol lawn just won't go away.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • Banned in 2018

    Here's some arcana reeking of 2017 that I'm banning from consideration, attention, even out-loud mention in 2018. I'm unfriending all this 2017-reminding shit. It's dead to me in 2018.
    • Jan 11, 2018

Latest in Guest Writer

  • Don't arm teachers

    It's been roughly five months since 14 high school students and three staff members were shot and killed in their school in Parkland, Fla.
    • Jul 12, 2018
  • The cult of Trump

    Nearly 40 years ago our country was introduced to two major phenomena centering around cults: namely, the Moonies and the Shiite Muslims. There were others, as well, and I soon became fascinated with the dynamics of cults and cult leaders (both religious and secular) in general — leading me to read a number of books and articles, some even written by those who had been deprogrammed after spending time in a cult.
    • Jun 21, 2018
  • Lights out

    I was taught to turn lights out when I was not using them. We pay extra for electricity to finance energy-saving programs that involve devices that turn lights out when not in use. Yet, the city of Little Rock recently sent an email advising citizens to combat crime by leaving outside lighting on all night. That is backward, ineffectual, potentially counterproductive and environmentally irresponsible advice.
    • Jun 21, 2018
  • More »

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Let's vote

    • And while we're at it lets get a vouchers for private schools initiative on the…

    • on July 14, 2018
  • Re: Punishing the poor

    • Then maybe the congress will give up on the unsustainable socialized medical insurance fiasco that…

    • on July 14, 2018

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