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Friday, March 21, 2014

The open line: Charter school debate; Pulaski Tech fee increase; UA gun ban; another ruling for marriage equality

Posted By on Fri, Mar 21, 2014 at 3:54 PM

The Friday night line is open. Closing out:

* CHARTER SCHOOL TRIUMPHS OVER OBJECTIONS: Responsive Education Solutions, the problematic charter school operator from Texas hoping to open a Little Rock School District flight charter school in upscale western Little Rock, ran into some opposition today before the state Education Department authorizing panel that reviews charter schools. It wants to move the charter from Rahling Road, where it won approval, to a cul de sac off Financial Center Parkway, just west of Shackleford Road. The organizers didn't reveal during the previous approval process that they intended to dump the Rahling location and move to Hardin Road to save money though the plan was already in process. They thus didn't have to address how they justified moving miles east and close to an exsting Little Rock middle school. The site hasn't been approved for such an intensive use by the city yet. Questions were raised about whether traffic would create a problem for the neighborhood. Responsive Ed dismissed the concerns and said it needed approval to move ahead with renovation work. Department Director Tom Kimbrell said traffic concerns were commonplace and could be handled. He cited successful handling of students at the eStem school downtown. Responsive Ed's lawyer proposed promising to limit enrollment in the existing available space to 290 that it has approval for 490 when all grades are begun. The company hopes to have a high school eventually. The panel, relying on Kimbrell's remark, approved the location change without objection. It continued a pattern of providing little resistance to charter school proposals in the Little Rock School District, no matter the objections from the district or others. The proposal now goes to the state Board of Education, but it has also demonstrated reluctance to alter the judgment of the authorizing panel.

* PULASKI TECH BOARD TO CONSIDER FEE INCREASES: The Board of Pulaski Tech will have a special meeting at 3 p.m. Monday to discuss potential student fee increases. It's an outgrowth of the recent failure of a property tax to support school operations.

The board will discuss a new general fee for fall 2014 ranging from $5 to $20 per credit hour to support instruction and administration. The board also will consider increases in fees for technical programs ranging from $15 to $40 an hour, depending on courses from aviation to welding.


* OLDIE GOLDIESA Louisiana political tipsheet reports on a telephone poll that shows 86-year-old Edwin Edwards, the former governor and ex-con, in the lead for a race for an open congressional seat, though perhaps short of support to win a runoff against a likely Republican opponent. Amusing news. Also amusing was the pollster — Darrell Glascock. How to describe Glascock in a few words? Impossible. Try Wikipedia. He was a consultant in Arkansas, tightly associated with Tommy Robinson in his most flamboyant years. A periodic candidate. Louisiana is his home now. Good fit.

* CHELSE ON TONIGHT: We had a little talk last night about Chelsea Clinton's appearance on the Tonight Show. Check it out here.

* ANOTHER BLOW FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY: A Michigan federal judge (Reagan appointee) has struck down that state's ban on same-sex marriage. The decision repudiates the junk science marriage equality foes have cobbled up as a defense of discrimination. 

* NO GUNS AT UA: The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees renewed its vote to ban guns on campus.  Sorry, Charlie.

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Speaking of...

  • Walton Family Foundation comes to rescue of new LR charter school

    June 12, 2014
    The Quest charter middle school will open in August in West Little Rock after a rocky regulatory road, thanks, we now know, to some financial help from the Walton Family Foundation, billion-dollar backers of charter school expansion. /more/
  • The gun-free campus open line

    June 2, 2014
    The reader comment line is open. It's also time for colleges to vote again to opt out of allowing employees to carry guns on campus. Pulaski Tech again says no to more guns on campus. /more/
  • Quest charter school still working on next year

    May 14, 2014
    The proposed Quest charter middle school for west Little Rock was dealt a setback when the state Board of Education denied its proposal for a new location on Hardin Road, but it hasn't given up on trying to find a way to open next year. Meanwhile, the company that will operate the school has provided me some interesting information on the families of nearly 180 children who'd sought admission. /more/
  • The Obama in Arkansas Edition

    May 9, 2014
    President Obama’s visit to Arkansas, the ruling on a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, a PR push for the Keystone pipeline, dark money flooding state political races at all levels, Asa Hutchinson’s thoughts on ending the private option, Frank Broyles getting pushed out at the UA, Johnny Key landing on his feet and Quest Charter School hitting a significant speed bump — all covered on this week's podcast. /more/
  • State Board of Education denies move of Quest charter school

    May 8, 2014
    The state Board of Education today overwhelmingly rejected an application to move the approved Quest charter middle school to a new location on Harding Road, just west of I-430 and Shackleford Road. Testimony included a recitation of the ways representatives of the school have provided misleading or incomplete information to state regulators. A representative of the school said the organizers would now seek to find a location acceptable to all. But it likely will make it difficult for the school, which says it has signed up 180 prospective students, to open by fall. /more/
  • Report: Lack of oversight leads to fraud, abuse in charter school operations

    May 6, 2014
    Don't look for Bill Moyers to be getting any grants from the Walton Family Foundation. His website reports on a new study about harm to taxpayers and school children from poor oversight of charter schools. /more/
  • New York Times focuses on Walton fortune investment in charter, voucher schools; filling in some missing parts

    April 26, 2014
    The New York Times takes a deep look at the Walton fortune's promotion of charter schools and school vouchers. The article was so deep, the Democrat-Gazette couldn't reprint it all. And there just wasn't room to mention all the Walton influence, some of debatable value, in the small state of Arkansas. /more/
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