SB587, sponsored by Senator Eddie Joe Williams, aligning the school election with the general, failed by one vote in the Senate for lack of majority, 17 Yea, 13 Nay, 5 Not Voting. The vote was expunged, which enabled it to be reconsidered at a later time. We have been informed by the sponsor that it will again come before the Senate on Monday, March 18th.
Parental and community involvement in public schools begins with the election of those who govern them. It’s not the school board members’, administrators’, or teachers unions’ schools, though they have long dominated these low turnout, insider elections. Public schools belong to the people – parents, property taxpayers, citizens.
It is inexplicable that those who fight Voter ID bills on the basis of voter suppression would continue to support a system which generates 100 times less voter turnout than the general election. Nothing suppresses votes more than holding an election NOT on Election Day.
If you believe our state’s motto – Regnat Populus (The People Rule) – thank/bolster those who voted Yea and ask them to do it again, strongly encourage those who voted Nay to reconsider, and ask those Not Voting to vote FOR democratizing our school elections.
We are incredulous that the vote essentially broke along party lines. While we encourage everyone to write all senators, if you are a Democrat/Progressive, please contact our Democratic senators and strongly urge them to be a true progressive on this issue. The future of our students, communities and state depends on the democratic governance of our public schools.
Make no mistake, the administrators, school boards association, and teachers’ unions are putting great pressure on the senators to vote Nay, arguing that only their “informed voters” should decide school elections. That discriminatory argument is exactly what gave rise to the poll tax and voter literacy tests. It took the Voting Rights Act to finally end the supremacists’ hold on elections and open them to all voters.
The county clerks are also vigorously opposing, saying it would be too hard on them. Even if that were true, which it isn’t, when did we start making our decisions concerning our democracy based on the ease of our county clerks. They were elected to conduct elections, not stifle them.
We fervently believe that this single change could have the greatest positive impact on the performance of our public schools and students. Please let our senators know how you feel, and strongly encourage them to hold our local school board members just as accountable as every other elected official in Arkansas.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Told he will vote Yea)
email@example.com (Told he will vote Yea)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Told he will vote Yea)
email@example.com (Told he will vote Yea)