The second Walton front | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The second Walton front

Posted By on Wed, Jun 4, 2008 at 10:43 AM

Scott Smith, who's been a lawyer at the state Education Department, will head the new Walton-funded public school agitprop agency at the University of Central Arkansas. (It joins a similar propaganda agency at Walton U. in Fayetteville.)

I know. Picking on those nice Waltons again. But really. When your salary is paid by the Waltons, is there any meaningful chance you'll research and report on issues that run counter to your benefactors' ideology on public education?


CONWAY, ARK. -- University of Central Arkansas President Lu Hardin today announced that Scott Smith will be the director of UCA's new Arkansas Public School Resource Center, which is being established with financial support from the Walton Family Foundation.

Smith currently is chief counsel for the Arkansas Department of Education.

"With his vast experience, impressive credentials, and intimate familiarity with the educational system in Arkansas, Scott is the perfect fit for this position," Hardin said.

"I am tremendously honored and excited to have this opportunity to work with Pres. Hardin, UCA, and the Walton Foundation in this endeavor to support public education," Smith said.  "I recognize their long-term commitment to improving public education, and the synergies created by uniting them in this effort should result in great progress for Arkansas."

Smith will begin his new position on July 1.

He has been with the Arkansas Department of Education since 2000, where he has been involved in developing all major education legislation, including accountability measures such as Act 35 and Act 1467, the Omnibus Education Act.  Smith previously served in the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, and before that he was deputy prosecuting attorney in the 19th Judicial District of Arkansas.

Last month, the Walton Family Foundation awarded a $426,141 grant to UCA to plan, develop and implement the Arkansas Public School Resource Center.

The purpose of the Center will be to provide comprehensive services to advance and support school choice initiatives and the implementation of high quality open enrollment public charter schools in Arkansas, as well as providing a variety of support services critical to the fiscal and academic success of rural public schools in Arkansas.

Hardin said the goals of the Center will be supporting school choice initiatives, the implementation and expansion of high quality open enrollment charter schools in Arkansas, the protection and continuing support of Arkansas public school accountability measures and the opportunity to provide assistance to rural public school districts and schools committed to meeting accountability provisions of Act 35 and Act 1467, the Omnibus Education Act.

The Center will design and provide support services for both open enrollment public charter schools and rural public school districts to establish and maintain high quality schools measured by both fiscal and academic performance. Services to be offered by the Center will include, but not be limited to:

o Professional development  for school staffs
o Leadership training for new leaders
o Formative assessments and support in data-based decision making
o Student Information Systems (SIS) training
o Federal Program compliance
o School lunch program compliance
o Guidance regarding facilities needs
o Financial/Accounting compliance assistance
o Distance learning


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