Saturday, August 7, 2010

Endorsements for September 21st School Elections

Fighting for the Importance of Public Education - For Our Children, Our Economy, Our Communities and Our Future

A strong public education system is essential to the individual and collective well-being of our state and its people, and to the development of an informed and engaged citizenry, without which no democracy can exist and flourish. A strong, universal system of public education is the foundation of the American middle class, and is vital to the survival of the United States as a broadly middle class society in the global economy. The guarantee of access to a free and quality public education should be a right accorded to every child in this country. Securing that guarantee should be a goal and a value that unites all Americans and is supported by our public policies and policymakers at every level.

At this time in the history of our country, all those who support public education, as the labor movement has historically done—who believe in its centrality to our national vitality and are committed to strengthening this institution so every child, in every corner of the country, has access to a great education—should come together to affirm this commitment. A public education system in all its component parts—pre-K, K-12 and higher education—can be strong, vital and productive only with the broad support, commitment and participation of all sectors of our communities.

To advance those important goal, the Northwest Arkansas Labor Council makes the following endorsements for the September 21st school elections in Northwest Arkansas. We urge our member unions and organizations and all working families in Northwest Arkansas to vote for a stronger system of public education. How you vote is your personal decision, but we believe that the following candidates and millage decisions will advance the quality of public education for our children, our economy, our communities, and our future.

FAYETTEVILLE SCHOOL DISTRICT


FOR Bryn Bagwell, Fayetteville School Board, Zone 2. Ms Bagwell was named a 2010 Outstanding Volunteer in the Fayetteville Public Schools, and she brings a strong background in public finance that will be very helpful as the district completes construction plans and addresses budget issues to assure adequate teachers’ salaries.

FOR the 2.75 mill increase to complete Phase 2 of the Fayetteville High School project. In June the district was awarded $31.4 million of 0% interest Qualified School Construction Bonds that can be used for completion of Phase 2 of the new high school, but only if Fayetteville voters pass a millage increase by December 2010.

GREENLAND SCHOOL DISTRICT


FOR Daniel Marzoni, Greenland School District, Zone 5. Mr. Marzoni is a retired classroom teacher and educational association leader who understands the issues facing the recently reinstated Greenland School District.

SPRINGDALE SCHOOL DISTRICT

FOR the 2.4 mill increase to help pay for nearly $70 Million in upcoming school projects. The state has pledged additional $15 Million if construction begins on the projects by January of next year. "This millage is designed to build a middle school, a junior high, an athletic facility at Har-Ber High and renovation of Springdale High School football stadium


Those who have dedicated their careers and lives to providing a public education to our children should be recognized for their contributions, supported and included in our efforts to continuously improve our education system and to ensure that the students in every public school have equal opportunity and access to highly qualified teachers, staff and instructional resources. The complex and considerable challenges facing public education require a public school environment that fosters thoughtful solutions, shared responsibility, consideration of proven strategies and programs and public education policies that help ensure access to the excellent education every child deserves.

For the past several years, we have been living through the most severe recession since the Great Depression, which has affected public education, not just through cuts to core programs, but through job losses that destabilize students’ families, cuts to other critical services that the communities depend on, and stress that pulls at the social fabric that unites us. Rather than fostering an environment that allows for thoughtful, collaborative solutions, so-called “reformers” focus instead on imposing unproven programs and polices that shake the foundation of our schools, neighborhoods and communities. Public education is a public responsibility and must be a public trust.

Our shared pain, rather than divide us, must instead become the impetus for our shared efforts to force a commitment to programs and polices designed to invest, not disinvest, in public education and other vital public services to ensure opportunities for lifelong learning Exclusionary approaches, simplistic slogans and punitive strategies that substitute for real solutions, such as the mass removal of both instructional and non-instructional personnel from low-performing schools without regard to the investments that have not been made in those schools, distract from the important work needed to strengthen public education, divide our communities and undermine public education, which is the institution that has the potential and purpose of creating equal opportunities for all our children.

The Northwest Arkansas Labor Council is united in opposing shortsighted arguments that focus on affixing blame rather than finding solutions to the problems that confront our schools in this time of economic crisis. The labor movement opposes any effort to pit public sector and private sector workers against each other. All workers deserve adequate health care and retirement security. The labor movement understands that until private sector workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively is restored, no public sector worker is economically secure. And we also understand that attacks on public sector workers are led by those whose goals is to weaken and impoverish all workers.

The Northwest Arkansas Labor Council will support all efforts to show that working with labor is part of the solution. We will redouble our efforts to make common cause with communities and will act—not just one day or one week but every day—to mobilize support for the programs and policies critical to building strong and vibrant education systems and communities throughout America.

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