Speaking of the Waltons 

Walton money — and that of other wealthy conservative tycoons — has bankrolled a number of organizations working to expand charter schools and other school "choice" programs in Arkansas. One of the newest is A+ Arkansas, which is holding meetings around the state promoting school choice.

The spokesman is Laurie Lee, former wife of Democrat-Gazette columnist Mike Masterson. She achieved public notice first years ago by working to remove books with sexual content from Fayetteville public school libraries. She's worked since in a variety of political efforts, including for the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity and lately for a political consulting firm headed by a former director of the Arkansas Republican Party.

Lee's recent messaging has included repetition of the idea that Arkansas is doing poorly in public education. She has taken aim squarely at Gov. Mike Beebe's advertising for the Democratic Party and its candidates that touts an Education Week evaluation placing Arkansas No. 5 in the country in a ranking based on six education categories, from policy to performance. (Her group claims to be nonpartisan. Any attack on a Democratic talking point during the election season is purely coincidental, onlookers are supposed to believe, even if the Republican Party is committed to the Walton/Murphy/Stephens/Hussman "education reform" agenda.)

Lee wrote in a recent e-mail:

"Some politicians don't want you to know that Arkansas' schools are in crisis. They are using this report to claim that Arkansas' schools rank 5th in the country — but 5th in what?

"They don't want you to know that Arkansas received a "D" in the most important category — K-12 Achievement. We are ranked 33rd in the nation."

Math and reading comprehension apparently aren't among this "education reform" group's strong suits. Lee linked to the Education Week study. It clearly listed the categories on which the ranking was based, including the one on K-12 achievement. It also notes that the contributing categories were ranked equally, with none considered "most important." It's called averaging. (A 33rd student achievement based on testing, a fact readily acknowledged by the governor, is a number of notches higher than Arkansas's customary place down near the bottom among the states.)

Said a defender of the governor's efforts: "Ironic that an e-mail decrying our advances in education chooses to ignore basic mathematics."

It's not the first or last time "reformers" will ignore numbers on school performance.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Most Shared

  • Humanists sue over Baxter County nativity scene. Looks like another winner

    The Baxter Bulletin reported today on a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Baxter County resident over the Nativity scene that has been erected on the Baxter County Courthouse lawn for decades by local lawyer Rick Spencer.
  • Opinions split within GOP on "law and order" issues. Where will Asa stand?

    The New York Times reports that some Republicans are trending away from the lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key approach to criminal justice embraced by the party's old guard, in part out of a recognition that minority votes matter now more than ever. Asa Hutchinson wants to reach out to black voters — what better place to start?
  • U.S. growth rate highest in ten years; Arkansas economy also looking up

    National GDP grew by 5 percent in the third quarter, according to a revised figure by the U.S. Commerce Department. Arkansas Business reported yesterday that forecasters also predict a strong year of growth ahead for Arkansas. We're still waiting for Obamacare to deliver its promised economic implosion.
  • Here's to Hutchinson, McCain and American revulsion at torture

    On Nov. 16, 1776, Gen. George Washington stood on the Jersey Palisades and peered across the Hudson River through his telescope as the British tortured American militiamen who had surrendered and then put them to the sword. Hearing the screams of his men, according to an aide, Washington turned and sobbed "with the tenderness of a child."
  • Easy on the pay raises

    An independent commission appointed by the governor, legislative leaders and the chief justice began work last week to fulfill part of Issue 3, the constitutional amendment that eased term limits, banned lobbyist gifts to legislators (sort of) and provided a mechanism for pay raises.

Latest in The Insider

  • All in the family

    Old habits die hard. We may have a new Republican majority in the legislature, but like the old Democratic majority, it still doesn't hurt to have a lawmaker spouse to land a part-time job during the legislative session.
    • Jan 30, 2013
  • 'Circuit breaker' legal

    When we first asked Gov. Mike Beebe about the "circuit breaker" idea out of Arizona (automatically opting out of Medicaid expansion if the feds reduce the matching rates in the future), he said it was fine but noted that states can already opt out at any time, an assurance he got in writing from the feds.
    • Jan 30, 2013
  • Church goes to school in Conway

    An interesting controversy is brewing in Conway Public Schools, periodically a scene of discord as more liberal constituents object to the heavy dose of religion that powerful local churches have tried to inject into the schools, particularly in sex education short on science and long on abstinence.
    • Jan 23, 2013
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments


© 2014 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation