General Background and Principles:
I am happily married, and have been for almost 40 years.
My wife and I are also happily retired, after more than 30 years of
teaching in middle and and high schools in Arizona and New Mexico.
I believe in public education delivered in neighborhood schools,
controlled by local democratically-elected school boards. This
traditional arrangement has worked quite well in virtually all schools
in the United States, and most of the current limitations and failings
in public education can be attributed to inadequate funding, which
includes inadequate training and salaries for staff members, and
to the many dysfunctions and distractions created by neighborhood
poverty. Any of the market-based "solutions", such as vouchers
and charter schools, those placebo options so often proposed today,
will only mirror and exacerbate the current social inequities and
injustices of the society which encompasses our educational system.
I am proud to be a member of the National Education Association
and a strong supporter of unions and the power of organized workers.
I grew up in a union family and have read much of the history of
labor relations in the United States. The union story is one of
gradual expansion of justice, dignity, and economic security for
working people. Union and labor activism has provided workplace
safety rules, child labor laws, the 40-hour week, paid vacations and
sick leave, and more localized or individual benefits such as paid
health insurance, higher salaries, and real pensions with guaranteed
life-time benefits. Such things were not granted freely by employers;
they were negotiated by workers buoyed by the strength of union
organization to support their demands. Note: If all these benefits
are not available in your current workplace, it likely is because
unions have been weakened significantly since the 1980s.
Politically, I am a progressive. I believe that government is at its best
when it provides the essential societal characteristics for widespread
prosperity and security among its citizens. These include a well-developed
and maintained infrastructure, a system of laws and a fair system for
enforcing them, and a safety net. These three characteristics are vital for
personal, individual security, but they also help sustain a strong productive
economy. The catch is that creating and maintaining adequate infrastrusture,
a fair system of justice, and a social safety net requires the collection and
spending of taxes. Who should pay the largest share of these taxes? It is
precisely those people who receive the most benefit from their membership
in the social system (i.e.,you will know them by their incomes) who should
contribute the most.