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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Good piece in Politico from Stanford sociology professor Doug McAdam on the roots of our modern partisan divide. McAdam tells the familiar story of how the South flipped, as yellow dog Democrats in the old Confederacy abandoned the party in the wake of the Civil Rights movement.
The Fayetteville City Clerk's office has certified that enough signatures were gathered to trigger a special election on Fayetteville's new civil rights ordinance, the Fayetteville Flyer reports. The effort to force a popular vote on the ordinance, led by a Repeal 119, a church-led group, gathered 5,714 signatures. Petitioners needed 4,905; the City Clerk's office began certifying the signatures last week and stopped at the end of the day Friday once enough signatures had been validated. The ordinance to discourage discrimination in housing and employment passed in the City Council 6-2 last month. The vote came after 10 hours of discussion, with many conservatives furious because the classes of people protected included gay and transgender people.
Rep. Tom Cotton continues to take a ribbing for his recent ad attempting cover on his vote against the Farm Bill (Cotton, you'll remember, claimed that Obama "hijacked" it and turned it into a food stamp bill; factcheckers pounced). Cotton is trying to have his row crops and eat them too, claiming he supports farm subsidies while voting against them.
The owner of The Gun Cave Indoor Shooting Range in Hot Springs, Jan Morgan, announced yesterday that she is banning the presence of Muslims in her business. Her reasoning: "Why would I hand guns and ammunition to people whose religion commands them to kill me and my non-muslim patrons?" OK, let's get that lawsuit rolling.
A bench warrant has been issued for a man named Aaron M. Lewis on one count of kidnapping in the disappearance of Beverly Carter, 51, a Crye-Leike real estate agent who disappeared after going to show a house on Thursday afternoon. With updated information as of 10:30 p.m..