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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 - 14:13:20

UPDATED: Privatizing teacher insurance unlikely; merger with state employees gains support. Plus, a genuinely new idea.

The legislative task force created to study the public school employee insurance problem doesn't like the idea to cut school districts loose to shop for insurance on their own, but there's support for the proposal to merge the teacher insurance system with the state employee system. Meanwhile, a Republican legislator has an innovative proposal that could potentially make a big difference.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 13:49:00

Comprehensive report on school broadband costs due on Dec. 1

The joint Education Committee was told today that legislative staff issued an RFP last week to study the current cost of providing broadband in every K-12 school in Arkansas and the cost of expanding that service to bring districts up to national bandwidth standards. That information has been much in dispute over the past several months, as education advocates and the governor have battled internet service providers over whether to allow schools to use the state's fiber optic network, ARE-ON.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014 - 16:19:00

Mother Jones on the collapse of the Common Core consensus

The story of Common Core serves as a cross section of the entire contemporary American political landscape, where inchoate fears of government-corporate collusion for sinister ends are granted credence by the reality of an unresponsive, top-down system too often contemptuous of everyday people's concerns, legitimate and illegitimate alike.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 18:06:00

Legislature discusses merging teacher and state employee insurance, but won't touch separate retirement systems

Combining the insurance systems for public school employees and state employees might help teachers with premiums in the short run, but unless it's accompanied by a big infusion of cash it will harm state employees. As for combining retirement systems for teachers and other public workers? Not happening.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 14:50:00

Support for Common Core flags nationwide, as Louisiana's Jindal stokes policy chaos

There's disturbing news for supporters of Common Core state standards from a survey published today by the journal Education Next: teachers are increasingly soured on the standards, just as they're being rolled out across the country. Meanwhile, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is being sued over his unilateral withdrawal from Common Core. Arkansas policymakers and educators, take notice.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday, August 15, 2014 - 11:13:00

Education Commissioner: Expect new school choice law in 2015

The issue of school choice will be back on the radar in the 2015 session, with all its attendant problems of fairness and legality. In the meantime, a report to the State Board shows the number of students moving in and out of each district under the law, broken down by race/ethnicity.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thursday, August 14, 2014 - 11:49:00

State Board of Education partners with Rockefeller, Walton foundations to target distressed schools

The state Board of Education today approved a partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation and Walton Family Foundation aimed at developing a plan to strengthen education by targeting academically distressed schools and districts.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014 - 15:22:00

Beebe touts another broadband study

Gov. Mike Beebe touts a new study of school broadband. He says Arkansas could use existing expenditures and federal money to create nation-leading high-speed Internet for school kids.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday, August 10, 2014 - 09:50:00

Deion Sanders' football and basketball charter school: Failing grade

Eye-opening story of the day: The New York Times reports on the academic and management disaster that is Deion Sanders' Prime Prep Academy, a publicly financed charter school in Dallas, Texas.

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014 - 12:47:00

8th Circuit declares Blytheville school transfer case moot

The 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals today ruled moot a preliminary injunction request challenging the Blytheville School District's decision to opt out of the 2013 Arkansas school transfer law because of its past desegregation litigation.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - 19:27:00

New teacher insurance rates to be announced July 29th

The latest on public school employee insurance woes: the task force looks at bigger-picture fixes and EBD says premiums will be announced on July 29th.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014 - 14:42:00

Picking apart the teachers' insurance "fix" just approved by the legislature

The crisis in the public school employee (PSE) insurance system is complicated. The politics behind it are complicated. The solutions just passed by the legislature to once again shore up the troubled fund — those are complicated, too. But the underlying reason behind the fund’s insolvency is simple: the public isn't paying enough for its share of PSE insurance.

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday, May 9, 2014 - 06:39:00

Evidence drives acceptance of evolution; religion can get in the way

An Arkansas native scientist who's long pondered the lack of teaching — and acceptance — of evolution, returns to the subject with research based on attitudes of gifted Arkansas high school students. It's an old story — evidence versus religion.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 - 11:19:00

Arkansas 12th graders make gains on reading, math scores

The Arkansas Education Department is touting today marked gains on 12th graders' math and reading scores on national testing, one of only two states with significant gains in both math and reading.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 - 22:23:00

Should public schools be allowed to use state-owned internet infrastructure?

Today, at a joint meeting of the House and Senate Education Committees held at Arkadelphia High School, a study was released that sets up a showdown between public education advocates and internet service providers. The report was the result of the Quality Digital Learning Study (QDLS) Committee, a task force of legislators, education officials and business leaders that was established by the legislature in 2013 for the express purpose of developing a plan to deliver high speed internet to K-12 schools.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014 - 10:01:00

Digital learning study group releases report: Major improvements needed

The Quality Digital Learning Committee this morning released its report to the legislature on the state's needs in digital learning, which refers not just to equal and adequate access to the Internet but also delivering classes digitally. A very short summary: The state needs a lot of improvement.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Monday, May 5, 2014 - 16:12:00

Beebe asks Tony Wood to become state education director

Gov. Mike Beebe has asked Tony Wood, deputy director of the state Education Department, to succeed Tom Kimbrell as director, Talk Business reports. Kimbrell is taking the Bryant superintendent job. Politics could determine how long Wood keeps the job, a fact he acknowledged.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 13:12:00

Surprise Fayettevile school leader wrote for Ark. Times on hot topic — charter schools

A belated welcome to Paul Hewitt, chosen this week as superintendent of the Fayetteville School District. He'd not been an original applicant for the job, but in the course of advising the school board developed into the choice. I recall him for an Arkansas Times article that put him at odds with some of the local power structure.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014 - 14:39:18

UPDATE: Star City teacher accused of racial web posts has been suspended

More today on Philip Holthoff, a Star City social studies teacher whose writing, under a pseudonym, reportedly appears on a white supremacist website, according to an article on the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hate Watch website.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 18:36:00

Bryant picks Education Director Tom Kimbrell as new school superintendent

The Bryant School Board has picked current state Education Department Director Tom Kimbrell to be its school superintendent, beginning July 1. KARK has the details

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