BY: B. Keith Plunkett @Keithplunkett
The government school lobbyists are dusting off their their tired old rhetoric.
In a Clarion Ledger article released this afternoon Nancy Loome of the Parents Campaign and Mississippi Association of Educators President Kevin Gilbert are pushing the familiar theme of “partnership” with legislators. Gilbert is quoted as saying, “We want our schools to be successful, and we need to come up with collaborative efforts.”
Loome said, “We need to lift up the wonderful successes, and to craft policy that allows our successes and our high-performing schools and districts to thrive.”
Those kind of statements can mean only one thing: They want control . . . again.
When organizations with track records of protecting and promoting government schools as a jobs program for teachers and administrators begin asking to hold hands and sing kumbaya with Republican leaders then we should all beware. When they point to questionable state testing like the MCT2 to illustrate improvement, and describe the continued downward spiral of ACT scores as a success then legislators should be outraged at the gall of someone who wants to help “craft policy.”
These groups have had their opportunity to do better by children and parents and chose instead to cash in.
It was Loome who joined forces with Desoto Superintendent and political boss Milton Kuykendall to kill charter school legislation in the 2012 session. Using a trojan horse tactic, Loome successfully co-opted the charter school message. In large part, helped because of a lack of organization by conservatives. She then worked behind the scenes with Kuykendall to kill charter school legislation in the House of Representatives.
An email obtained by Mississippi PEP in February of 2012 showed the action that went on behind the scenes. Loome sent the email to Kuykendall in early February, just days before the charter school vote in the legislature, asking that he rouse teachers to action against charter schools by lighting up the phone lines. She even went so far as to provide some legislators personal cell numbers. In the email to Kuykendall, Loome wrote:
“We can’t afford to waste scarce taxpayer dollars on inexperienced “mom and pop” charter organizers who don’t know what they are doing.”
She went on to knock “for profit” charter school companies that would “rake in greater profits” (greater than who?). She also wanted to be sure any legislation that may get through require that charter schools in Mississippi show a “proven track record of success.” (Obviously not a current requirement of Mrs. Loome and her pro-government school monopoly friends.)
Kuykendall, always eager to protect his fiefdom in Desoto County obliged.
Now comes Loome wanting to again “collaborate” with legislators.
We have seen this act before.
Mrs. Loome’s Parents Campaign is hooked at the hip with other liberal organizations that think they know what’s best for all children.
If Mississippi legislators successfully break the stranglehold monopoly these organizations have on the future of our children, Mrs. Loome could personally lose her ability to “rake in the profits”, as would Mr. Gilbert and the other pro-government education groups. But more importantly, the shift in political power from lobbyists to parents would be a monumental opportunity for Mississippi to begin making huge strides towards education reform, something that we have not seen under the pro-government system promoted by Mrs. Loome.
Let’s be clear about this, what is at stake here is the future of our state, not just the future of education in our state. Mississippi is dangerously close to the edge. The numbers of dropouts we have is unacceptable and the fact that government school proponents have attempted to keep dropout numbers from even being counted should be a big sign of what is really going on.
Welfare numbers continue to rise. How long can we sustain this before our state is too far gone? Who then, will be pulling the wagon, and how many can fit inside it before it simply is too heavy to tow?
Any push for a voice in the argument from The Parents Campaign, the Superintendent’s Association, the Mississippi Association of Educators and any other group that has had a hand in Mississippi’s race to the bottom should be rejected outright. These groups have overseen the failure that our state must work to correct. They wish to maintain a status quo and a cash cow at the expense of Mississippi students and our states future. It shouldn’t be tolerated, and Mrs. Loome’s games should be rejected. Legislator’s should repeat to themselves the old adage, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
I, for one, don’t think that simply passing charter school legislation is the answer. Frankly, I think we’re too far gone. What needs to happen in Mississippi is full out school choice. Drastic? You bet. But, at this point half-measures get us nowhere. One thing is for sure, whether you’re for charters or full choice, trusting this bunch isn’t the way to go.
The wolves have their sheep’s clothing back from the cleaners. It’s fresh pressed and ready for a new legislative session.
We don’t have too many more chances at this. So, let’s not fall for that again.
About Keith: Keith Plunkett has worked on communications issues with a range of public officials from aldermen to Congressmen, and a variety of businesses, governmental agencies and non-profits. He serves or has served as a board member of several non-profit, civic and political organizations. Contact him by going to HorizonMediaMarketing.com or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett