HENDERSON: Blasts Hutchinson, Key on education policies.

Jared Henderson, the Democratic candidate for governor, has blasted the move by Education Commissioner Johnny Key to weaken job protection for certain Little Rock School District teachers. He says it’s of a piece with Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s “empty rhetoric” about education.

I’ve sought a comment from the governor. Meanwhile, here’s Henderson’s statement:

Jared Henderson, candidate for governor, released a statement Tuesday following the news of Education Commissioner Johnny Key’s move to weaken the Little Rock Education Association, a teachers’ union that has held strong in advocating for educators amidst a state takeover of the school district.

“Just this past weekend, Governor Hutchinson released a statement full of empty rhetoric on his hollow support for Arkansas teachers and the protection of their benefits. It comes as no surprise to our educators that days later he has let them down, yet again, with the announcement of his appointed Education Commissioner’s decision to strip Little Rock teachers who are serving in our highest-need schools of a chance to have fair hearings and dismissals,” Henderson said.

Teachers in 23 Little Rock schools, the number of those rated “D” or “F” by the state, are facing removal of protections like hearings or dismissals.

“Our education system in Arkansas is never going to live up to its full potential if we don’t stop demeaning the teaching profession through low wages, endless bureaucracy, and turning a blind eye to underfunded districts particularly in our lowest income areas. Teachers deserve more than feel-good political promises during an election year -they deserve the respect, pay and other policies commensurate with the vital importance of their profession,” Henderson added.

“If we want the best for our kids, we need to make being a public school teacher one of our most desirable professions – especially in our highest need schools. The administration’s steps today take us in the opposite direction. Our teachers want healthy accountability and believe in high expectations for everyone from the Governor and Commissioner’s office all the way down to our precious students – but they know we do not need to weaken fair due process to achieve it.”