AEA ATTACKS POLICY FOUNDATION,
SCHOOL CHOICE SUPPORTERS
"The most callused aspect of the (Arkansas) education monopoly is that it willingly and deliberately forces children--except those whose parents have wealth--to attend bad schools. And it does so with financial resources taken from parents already struggling financially and at the expense of their ability to choose a better school for their sons and daughters.” Policy Foundation report, 1998
"Students at failing Little Rock schools deserve school choice." Policy Foundation memo, 2015
(October 2019) The Arkansas Education Association (AEA), a teachers union whose membership has declined in the 21st century attacks the Policy Foundation and other pro-parent school choice supporters in a new report.1
The AEA report alleges "a vast network of corporate interests and wealthy individuals are chipping away at this bedrock of our democracy in an effort to turn public education into a marketplace where private interests can profit off of our students. Across the nation, states have implemented and expanded charter schools that are unaccountable to the public and voucher programs that have siphoned off public taxpayer money to pay for private school tuition."
The report cites the Policy Foundation and other groups2 that support the right of parents to choose the best schools for their children.3
Circulation of the report occurs against the backdrop of three developments:
· A decline in teachers union membership;
· Expanded parental support for Arkansas' school choice market;
· Decertification of the Little Rock teachers union.
Decline in Teachers Union Membership
The AEA is the state affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA).4
A 2008 NEA document reported 16,528 Arkansas members as of Dec. 31, 2007.5 The AEA's return for 2017, a public record, lists "over 10,800 members" in Arkansas.6
Expansion of School Choice Market
The school choice market includes students in the following categories:
· Charter schools
· Home schools
· Private schools
· Public school choice programs
State Department of Education records show the market has expanded from nearly 67,000 K-12 students in 2013 to more than 83,000 students last year.7
In economic terms, parental demand is the major factor behind expansion of the school choice market.
The supply of school choice options should be expanded to meet this demand.
Decertification of Little Rock Teachers Union
The state Board of Education, at its Oct. 10 meeting, voted to decertify the Little Rock Education Association as the district's sole bargaining unit.
The vote was unanimous.8
1 'Inside the web of Arkansas's School Privatization Empire.' https://www.aeaonline.org/buying-arkansass-schools/
2 These include the Manhattan Institute, a New York think tank; the State Policy Network, a Virginia-based coalition of think tanks; Arkansans for Education Reform Foundation; Arkansas Learns, a Little Rock nonprofit; the Reform Alliance, another Little Rock nonprofit; and the Office of Education Reform at the Univ. of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
No radio talk show hosts or programs are cited in the AEA report.
3 The AEA report employs the phrase 'our students.'
5 Policy Foundation research memo (June 2008) "NEA Membership Declined in Arkansas in 2007."
7 Policy Foundation research memo (December 2018) "School Choice Market Tops 83,000 Students"
8 Arkansas Board of Education, http://dese.ade.arkansas.gov/public/userfiles/SBE_Transcripts/2019/BOE_-_10-10-19.pdf, pp. 280-301