We don’t hear much about vouchers in Arkansas — charter schools being the preferred method of undermining the public school system in these parts — but in urban areas to the north, the voucher scheme is still being worked. There’s a reason for the difference.
The real purpose of vouchers is not to allow poor kids in bad public schools to move to higher-performing private schools, as voucher proponents claim publicly. The purpose is to give public money to students who are already attending private schools. This means vouchers are most eagerly sought in areas that already have large private-school systems — Catholic schools, mostly. The South lacks these systems.
A recent report on a federally funded voucher program in Washington revealed once again how vouchers work. Pupils already attending private schools in D.C. were awarded many more of the vouchers than were needy students attending public schools deemed in need of improvement under federal standards. Most of the private schools participating in the voucher program are affiliated with the Catholic Church. They are using public money to advance the religious beliefs of one sect.
The D.C. voucher program is part of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, legislation that sounds a lot better than it is. As do vouchers.
The cat is the hat
Only a few states in the upper Midwest permit cat hunting, but the movement seems sure to spread. Other states are seeing the advantages of thinning the cat herds that roam unrestrained across taxpayers’ property, damaging gardens, killing songbirds, keeping people awake at night. As one Minnesota wildlife officer put it, “It don’t take many cats to be too many cats.”
Another argument for allowing the hunting of feral cats has recently emerged. Animal-welfare activists are protesting the British Army’s use of bearskin for the towering hats worn by sentries at royal palaces. The hats are made from the pelts of North American black bears. Arkansas having once been known as “The Bear State,” we Arkansans feel a special empathy with these engagingly uncatlike creatures.
Stop the killing of American bears to make hats for British soldiers? Yes, of course. But force the palace guards to go bareheaded, ending a 200-year-old tradition? Too drastic.
A solution leaps to the eye. Make the hats from catskin. Because of the difference in size, more cats will be required than were bears, but there’s no shortage of cats. The demand will be met, especially if the states put a bounty on game cats. Precedent for converting cats into headwear is found in an old folk song we remember: “My neighbor had an old gray cat … now I got me a new fur hat.”
There’s a lot of wisdom in those things.
Without comment today, the Arkansas Supreme Court rejected a request for a rehearing of its decision killing a proposed amendment to allow three more casinos in Arkansas because of a flawed ballot title.
We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.