U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., received the endorsement of the state’s largest teachers’ union, the Arkansas Education Association, on Saturday (April 26). Brenda Robinson, president of the AEA, said Pryor was a “strong advocate” for public education.
“The Arkansas Education Association is proud to recommend the re-election of Senator Mark Pryor to represent the great state of Arkansas,” Robinson said. “Mark believes that we have the responsibility to our seniors, our veterans and, most importantly, to our children. He has worked steadily to make higher education more accessible for Arkansas students by reducing the federal student loan rate and increasing funding for pell grants. He also supports raising teachers’ salaries to keep and attract the best educators.”
The AEA endorsement is not a major surprise. The teachers’ union frequently endorses Democratic candidates in many contested general election match-ups. It recently endorsed Democrat Mike Ross in the Arkansas Governor’s race.
Pryor touted votes for Title I funding, which boosts spending in school districts with low income students. He also cited his support for special education programs, trade and job-based education, and student loan money.
He singled out votes made by Cotton – his Republican Senate challenger – by highlighting Pell Grant cuts, budget votes that curtailed Head Start funding, and reduced school lunch program dollars.
“When you look at Congressman Cotton’s record on education, it is very different. Earlier this month, he voted to cut $145 billion in education funding. Last year, Congressman Cotton said he wanted to eliminate the government student loan program, even though those are the very same student loans that helped him go to college,” said Pryor.
Cotton’s campaign offered response comments from his mother, Avis, who has worked in the state’s public school system for four decades.
“As a 40-year educator in the public school system, I know that Tom Cotton is the best candidate for voters who care deeply about education,” said Avis Cotton. “Tom is a product of Arkansas public schools and wants to ensure that all of our children get the best education possible. He believes we can do that by making our public schools as strong as they can be and by giving parents the flexibility and opportunity to make decisions that are best for their children.”