State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison is asking his members to champion public education in a political environment where lawmakers are increasingly open to alternatives.
Harrison told board members Thursday that they should engage in an "aggressive communications effort" that talks about the value of public education and the state's belief in quality for all children.
The board finds itself having to reinforce a basic message about public education as it comes under pressure from skeptical legislators who seem interested in chipping away at state and local authority over taxpayer-funded schools.
A new law offers tax credits to parents of disabled children who send their children to private schools, and one of its champions in the legislature wants to expand it. Another law allows private companies to run "dropout recovery" programs in school districts using taxpayer money.