A Dozen Lies and Damned Lies

The Arkansas Education Association/National Education Association (AEA/NEA), Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators (AAEA), Arkansas School Boards Association (ASBA) and their protectionists, under the banner Arkansas Opportunity to Learn Campaign, have circulated/are circulating a flyer, a portion of which (attached below) reads:

Your Public Schools are Under Attack!

A group of wealthy business interests and outsiders want to abandon the progress (their emphasis) we’ve made and gamble with our kids (sic) future by allowing for-profit charter companies with dubious track records to take over our public schools.

“Their agenda could result in elimination of local school boards, creation of more segregated schools and huge gaps in accountability.

Their plan has little evidence to support it. (their emphasis) It will expand government bureaucracy, costing the state tens of millions of dollars and benefitting for-profit education companies at the expense of traditional schools.”

The text is part of an invitation to an Education Advocacy Day which begins on Wednesday, February 20th with breakfast at the AEA, moves to a meeting with the Governor, then lunch with legislators back at the AEA, followed by a rally on the steps of the Capitol. Those wishing to attend are directed to register at www.citizensfirst.org, and the group has a Facebook page at www.fb.com/ArkansasOTL. Click here to read the full flyer.

If the positions and track records of these strange bedfellows are so sound, why not argue any proposed legislation on the merits instead of making up, by my count, at least twelve lies in three paragraphs?

Here’s their truth, in the words of Dr. Richard Abernathy, executive director of the AAEA, in a recent email to his members:

“…if you believe that losing control of your local school is a bad thing, you need to contact your legislator and have your teachers, board members, and other employees (his emphasis) contact their legislator.”

To whom is this three-headed cabal, which has long dominated state and local education governance and policy, afraid of losing control. It’s you – the people – parents, employers, citizens. Until you take back your schools from this self-interested alliance, you’ll continue to be fed lies and damned lies regarding the education and performance of our students.

So while they resort to fueling fear with their false “facts,” let’s remain focused on what should drive every decision regarding education: Is it in the best interest of our students?

Note: Just like the Arkansas PTA doesn’t speak for this parent, I would hope that teachers, administrators, and school board members, who disagree with the tactics and/or positions of their respective associations, will stand up to their management and elected leaders and insist that their voices be heard as well. If not, their individual and collective leadership in putting students first will always be welcome at Arkansas Learns.

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