Today, Democratic state Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon joined with minority Republicans to announce the takeover of the state Senate governance structure. They are calling themselves the Majority Coalition Caucus. Here is their news release.
Their education platform refers to “reforms and enhancements,” but fails to mention funding. Under this scheme, Sen. Steve Litzow — not Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe — will serve as chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Committee. This move places any effort to improve class sizes or other funding for our schools at risk and increases the likelihood of more anti-educator, anti-labor legislation.
Key points, Senate takeover, 12/10/12
• Instead of amply funding K-12 public schools as mandated by the state Supreme Court and constitution, Sens. Rodney Tom, Steve Litzow and Tim Sheldon have bashed and blamed teachers while slashing school funding by $2.5 billion.
• This bullying behavior has to stop. Rodney Tom has played political power games for too long, and students in our state’s classrooms have paid the price. We are 4th worst in the nation in overcrowding of our classrooms.
• It’s time for public school supporters to stand up to Tom and his political cronies and demand they fulfill their constitutional obligation to our kids and start amply funding our schools.
• Scapegoating teachers is not leadership, and our students deserve more than Rodney Tom’s teacher-bashing antics and political-power grabbing tactics.
• We’ve seen reform added with more standardized testing of students, adding costs and reducing instructional time.
• The Legislature also completely reformed teacher evaluation, but hasn’t fully funded implementation of that program.
• It’s time to restore the recession-era cuts and begin funding basic education as required by the Supreme Court and our state constitution.
• A good starting point would be restoring educator pay that has been cut and reducing overcrowding in the classroom to improve student learning.
• We’re not that surprised by the power-sharing moves occurring in the Senate. We know that Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe will continue to put the needs of students front and center in the Senate.