I know many of you were breathlessly captivated by the 1,492th GOP primary debate tonight and weren’t able to make it to the school choice event in Searcy hosted by The Arkansas Reform Alliance (TARA). But I did attend and I came away with three distinct impressions.
1. Most people–even the highly educated–lack basic understanding of school choice/voucher programs. This is not a knock on anyone, it’s just an observation (that happens to be indisputable) based on the questions of the attendees tonight. If anything, this is a very strong indication of the importance of these types of events and the educational work that TARA is doing. Keep it up.
2. The organizers of the event could not have been more correct: the battle for education freedom will be won (or lost) through social media & citizen engagement. Bumper stickers and yard signs are cool, but the days of winning campaigns with only those types of trinkets are over. Campaigns happen online. The sooner we get every homeschool soccer mom on Twitter, the faster we start to see real momentum towards reform. Don’t think for a second that the teachers union & lobby won’t be using every social media avenue available to smear and destroy any school choice legislation. When this war begins, we need to be ready. We will win it or lose it with social media and citizen activism.
3. We have a state representative that is committed to fighting for this cause. I mentioned in my post from earlier this week that Rep. Biviano would be speaking tonight, and he did not disappoint. It was the first time I have really heard him stump and I must say, I was impressed. He spoke without notes, just from the heart. He even went so far as to say that he is perhaps more passionate about school choice and education reform than tax cuts or fighting Obamacare–“and that’s pretty passionate,” he added. When we start to consider the pressures and the battle that will come with the teachers union (which will likely also include the NEA) as we work towards real reforms, there is no doubt we are going to need a fighter in Little Rock. Perhaps someone who has stood up to the governor, the state insurance commission, the national Department of Health & Human Services, and the Obama administration to fight the implementation of Obamacare is not a bad choice.
A tweetcap of tonight’s forum from my Twitter, in reverse chronological order:
- @MarkBiviano says #SchoolChoice isn’t a solution for everything, but it’s a great step in the right direction. #arleg #arpx #tcot
- @markbiviano says we need competition to fix our schools. #arpx #arleg #tcot #teaparty #schoolchoiceweek
- @LaurieLee0966 says the battle for #schoolchoice will be won on Twitter & Facebook. #fb #arpx #arleg
- @MarkBiviano says the idea that #Arkansas is 5th in #education is misleading. #arpx #arleg #schoolchoiceweek #fb @TARA_AR
- “Our educational problems are dragging this state down.” – @MarkBiviano #arpx #arleg #schoolchoiceweek
- @MarkBiviano says we need some bold, radical reforms in #education. #arpx #arleg #tcot #schoolchoiceweek
- @MarkBiviano: “I’m not proud of a 50% remediation rate.” #arpx #arleg #schoolchoiceweek #tcot
- @MarkBiviano says he may be even more passionate about #SchoolChoice than tax cuts or fighting #Obamacare. #arpx #arleg #schoolchoiceweek
- At the @TARA_AR event in #Searcy. @MarkBiviano opening. #arpx #arleg #schoolchoiceweek