Arkansas Education Policy Advocates: Debating Merits vs. Demonizing Messengers

In an age when many choose to focus on the messengers instead of the message, it’s important to know the major Arkansas education advocacy organizations and their primary constituencies.

Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators
Funding: Public school district paid dues on behalf of individual members; Private)
Primary Constituency: School district administrators
Number of Employees: 10
Mission: “The Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators is a united alliance of diverse school leaders and an effective force for the highest quality public education for all children. Our mission is to insure high standards of leadership by providing quality professional development, influencing education legislation and policy, stimulating and fostering support and building successful coalitions.”

Arkansas Education Association
Affiliate of National Education Association
Funding: Private
Primary Constituency: School district teachers, staff
Number of Employees: 12
Mission: “To advocate for education professionals and to unite our members and the state to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.”

Arkansas Learns
Funding: Private
Primary Constituency: Business
Number of Employees: 1
Mission: “Arkansas Learns is the Voice of Business for excellent education options – including industry-relevant career pathways – for all students, no matter their culture, economic status or ZIP Code, to ensure the talent necessary for Arkansas and Arkansans to successfully compete economically.”

Arkansas Public School Resource Center
Funding: Public school district dues; Private
Primary Constituency: Public school districts, open-enrollment charters
Number of Employees: 18
Mission: “The mission of the Arkansas Public School Resource Center is to support the improvement of public education by providing advocacy services on behalf of public schools with a special emphasis on charter schools and rural districts.”

Arkansas School Boards Association
Affiliate of National School Boards Association
Primary Constituency: Elected school board members
Funding: Public school district paid dues on behalf of individual members; Private)
Number of Employees: 21
Mission: “The mission of ASBA is to promote student focused leadership in public education through training, advocacy and service for local board members.”

Sometimes these groups are aligned. More often they are not. It behooves all – if only for the students all purport to prioritize – to vigorously debate issues on merits and facts and avoid demonizing those with whom they disagree. Arkansas and her people will be better for it.

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