The Paron case | Arkansas Blog

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Paron case

Posted By on Fri, Aug 18, 2006 at 12:37 PM

Testimony continues in Pulaski Circuit Court today in a last-ditch stab by a handful of supporters to keep the Paron High School open. Will Judge Jay Moody reiterate his cockamamie finding that a student coming home after dark from a long bus ride is ground to keep an inadequate school open? Or will the Supreme Court's curt reversal of his earlier order leave him to understand that the Supreme Court is serious about adequate education for all? That remains to be seen.

What doesn't remain to be seen is that Republican politicians like this issue. It's been a trump card for A$a already and Jim Holt, the Republican candidate for lt. gov., likes it, too. His news release on the jump.

Jim Holt news release

Forced bussing is returning to Arkansas, but this time for a less noble reason.  The issue of school consolidation has gained political acceptance because those who support it think they are saving money, and not realizing the true cost.  The cost is sacrificing good schools that are near by and which have strong parental involvement.

Senator Jim Holt does not agree with the Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision to halt the injunction that would allow Paron School District to operate another school year until the merits of their case could be heard.  As of now, Paron Schools will be forced to shut their doors. Paron High School boasts a zero college remediation rate while the neighboring district has a 65.7 percent remediation rate.  Paron’s students have, on average, higher ACT scores, higher graduation rates, and lower dropout rates.

“Paron, like many small schools, could survive indefinitely, while providing a quality education to its students if the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) had not bypassed the legislature and imposed restrictions not mandated by any law,” Holt said.

The ADE requires a minimum of 38 courses be ‘taught,’ not just ‘offered,’ even when students do not enroll in some of the courses. The change from “offered to taught” occurred prior to the 2003-04 school year, Annette Barnes of ADE confirmed by email.

“It is not in the law; it came from the Standards of Accreditation and is based on Revisions to Standards. There is no legislation that says this,” Barnes said.

"This is not what the legislature intended," Senator Holt contends, "How could education be equal and adequate when some students have to ride the bus 4 hours, yet others only a few minutes? The study time for homework is not equal and the question that troubles me is: which school, which family, which child will be the next victim of the government?"

Senator Holt has a consistent record of support for local control of schools and has shown that there are no savings from consolidation.  However, the immediate cost separates families from good established schools and turns students into commuters (at high gas prices), stealing their homework and extracurricular time.  This is a total losing proposition. It costs the people their freedom.  Holt will ensure and tirelessly pursue legislation that will allow school districts more flexibility to meet the curriculum standards.

Senator Holt wants to know what Halter thinks about control of schools being wrested from the local school boards and decided by bureaucrats with no stake or interest in the school district.  Mike Beebe opposes state education standards being met through distance learning, which means more school closings and longer bus rides. How does Halter feel about this issue? Is Halter opposed to distance learning options that will allow smaller schools to continue to operate and save children from riding a bus for four hours daily? Having lived outside of Arkansas for much of the last 25 years, perhaps Halter can explain to people in the Paron School District how California’s educational system works.

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