Robert Tighe

    A life not so simple ...

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
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    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.