John Oliver's HBO show "Last Week Tonight" has become the thinking person's replacement for the departure of Jon Stewart from the Daily Show. Call it long-form comedic journalism. Very serious, very deeply reported, but wryly presented.
This week: Oliver takes on charter schools. You'll hear from Oliver what you won't hear from the Walton-funded junta pumping propaganda in Arkansas. Oliver provides a dose of reality — charter doesn't equal superior. Some are failing; some are mismanaged; some are fraudulent. But we knew that. Unless your only source of information is the newsletter of the Walton propaganda unit at the Walton university branch in Fayetteville or one of the Walton paid lobbyists or current and former Walton legislative bill-carriers now influencing education policy in Arkansas.
Sen. Joyce Elliott will seek approval today for bills to provide some fairness in transparency between real public school districts and other schools that receive state money but controlled by private organizations. If history is a guide, the outlook isn't good. /more/
Johnny Key, the state Education Commissioner and boss of the state-controlled Little Rock School District, today opposed a bill to stem the growth of charter schools in districts like Little Rock while under state control. A former state Education Board member who voted for state control said today that he saw this attitude by the state as a betrayal of trust. /more/
Around the country, if not in Arkansas, charter schools are losing their luster as even former advocates come to understand they damage real public schools and don't produce much in the way of better education. /more/
The House Thursday failed by one contested vote to pass SB 308 to force public school districts to sell or lease vacant school buildings to charter schools. It will likely get another vote and enjoys powerful backing. /more/
A bill that would grant Arkansas charter schools the right to use “unused or underutilized” public school buildings advanced out of the House Education Committee late Monday afternoon on a voice vote with some dissent, drawing criticism from some opponents of the bill who cried foul at the unusual timing of the committee's action. /more/
Sen. Linda Collins-Smith (R-Pocahontas) made a run at imposing a stronger ethics requirement on the legislature, but she fell short. Her bill got a 20-6 favorable vote in the Senate, but as amendment to an initated act, an ethics reform measusre of 1988, she need 24 votes.
Tens of thousands of Arkansans have been kicked off of Medicaid for failure to respond to an income verification letter. Many of them are eligible for the program according to the very data that triggered the letter in the first place.
Hog fans just can't quit blaming the refs for the NCAA men's basketball tournament loss to North Carolina. Now the Arkansas Senate has gotten in on the act, with this resolution introduced by Democratic Sen. Keith Ingram and getting bipartisan co-sponsorship from that brutish and short sandlot roundball player, Republican Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson.
IndieWire breaks news long whispered downtown — a more ambitious successor to the Little Rock Film Festival is in the works, with backing from writer/director Jeff Nichols, a Little Rock native. His "Loving" has won wide acclaim recently.
A Senate committee has again rejected Sen. Joyce Elliott's bill — modeled after a suggestion in court proceedings by the attorney general's office — to provide equal treatment of same-sex married couples in issuance of birth certificates.
KARK reports that police shot a man in an alley behind Ernie Biggs on Clinton Avenue in the River Market district about 2 a.m. today. His condition was not known, but initial reports said he was in surgery. UPDATE: The shooting was fatal.