There’s an old saying, based on a mixture of truth and stereotype, that people over age 30 who are aren’t liberals have no heart, but people over age 30 who aren’t conservatives have no brain. I am neither liberal nor conservative (and certainly not a Democrat nor a Republican), so, if this saying is true, I must have no heart, nor brain, myself, since I am over 30 years old . . . right?
Wait, that can’t be true; I need both a heart and a brain to type! I guess, then, that I do have both, but somehow, politically, the two interfere with each other, cancel each other out, or something like that. I’d like to think that this allows me to “cherry-pick” the good ideas which exist within liberalism and conservatism, both — and also allows me to disagree with the unreasonable ideas found in both political camps.
Anyway, if you’ve been wondering how I could write something that sounds as right-wing as this petition, now you know: as a neo-Jeffersonian (my own political label, which I invented myself), I’m free to use right- or left-wing arguments if, and only if, they make sense to me. The “end taxation without representation” argument, for restoring local control to Arkansas schools now suffering under state control, is certainly one with which I agree. Because of where we live, we are one of the many families being taxed for public schools, but without any representation by an elected school board to govern those very same schools. This is an issue that was supposed to be settled by the American Revolution. Not only is taxation without representation unfair and unethical, it is also un-American.
Here is a link to the petition. Especially if you live in Arkansas, please follow the link, and read it, at least. If you agree with it, I then ask that you sign it, add comments if you wish, and share it with others — especially any Arkansas voters you know. I will not, of course, ask anyone to sign something with which they disagree.
The fact is that this mess of state-controlled public schools, in Arkansas, was created on the Democrats’ watch. That is easily verifiable. The previous Democratic Governor of Arkansas, Mike Beebe, could have easily put an end to this madness, had he chosen to, but he failed to do so, even when asked to by over 1,500 people, in an earlier petition-drive, several years ago.
Last November, Republicans swept the mid-term elections here, and now control the governor’s mansion, both houses of our state legislature, and our state’s entire delegation to Congress. Less than a week ago, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson replaced a previous Commissioner of Education, appointed by his Democratic predecessor, with a new Commissioner of his own choosing, Mr. Johnny Key. It was under a previous Commissioner of Education that the last such state-takeover of a school district (the Little Rock School District) happened. Commissioner Key may not be the most popular person in Arkansas at the moment, especially among Democrats, but my inclination is to give the man a chance to demonstrate that he can do a better job than his recent predecessors.
A new party is in power now. This petition asks them to fix a serious mistake made by the other party. As it is petitioning two Republican leaders in our state, Gov. Hutchinson and Commissioner Key, it is more likely to succeed if it uses conservative arguments. That’s another reason I wrote it the way it is written: simple pragmatism. Make no mistake, though — I do agree with every word of it, or I would not have written it in the first place.
[Note: Although I am a public school teacher, and the Little Rock School District is mentioned above, the LRSD is not the school district where I teach. However, my school district is also one of the ones suffering under state control — it was taken over several years ago — so I have seen, first-hand, that state control simply doesn’t work to improve schools, for reasons explained in the petition itself.]