The new Arkansas legislature: Money is bipartisan | Arkansas Blog

Monday, November 19, 2012

The new Arkansas legislature: Money is bipartisan

Posted By on Mon, Nov 19, 2012 at 6:31 AM

OK, things ARE different in Arkansas in the party politics realm.

Stephens Media profiles the new Republican leaders of the Arkansas legislature - Sen. Michael Lamoureux and Rep. Davy Carter - and features their professed willingness to work "across the aisle" with Democrats.

They are dealmakers, it's true. But any notion that they signal a moderate legislature should be put to bed before the new General Assembly convenes in January. The Democratic majority was pretty conservative to begin with, but it will seem moderate by comparison. Hard to imagine Arkansas could get more conservative than it already is on guns, abortion and discrimination against gay people, but just wait. And Republicans are coming with Voter ID laws

All of these things aren't necessarily partisan issues. The big money has already bought bipartisan support on some key issues - for example, charter schools and other so-called "education reform." The Walton money will, for example, probably take control of charter school oversight from the state Board of Education (it's doing too good a job), likely through a new, far more political appointed group attuned to Billionaire Boys Club wishes. Pending, too, is a so-called parental trigger law to allow a vote of parents to essentially take over a school they believe to be failing. Panacea? Not hardly. From The New Republic:

Plenty of evidence questions the wisdom of replacing public schools with charter schools. One study, from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, found that 83 percent of charter schools fared worse or no better than their public school counterparts in producing academic gains. Trigger efforts have also failed to work so far. Only two California schools have been subject to trigger petitions; one effort failed, another remains tangled in the courts. The laws have also been criticized for offering ill-defined options to parents: just because parents want their children to attend a charter over a public school, that doesn’t mean that charter schools will welcome the opportunity to teach their children, who may be several grades behind their peers.

Others are troubled by the backers of parent trigger laws. After Ben Austin, a California charter school overseer, dreamed up the original proposal, the idea was seized upon and propagated by the American Legislative Exchange Council—better known as ALEC, the model legislation giant behind the controversial “stand your ground” laws—and the Heartland Institute—notorious, of late, for comparing believers in climate change to the Unabomber. Both organizations have disseminated model parent trigger laws. (As pointed out by Center for Media and Democracy member Mary Bottari, the Heartland Institute’s bill notably allows parents to trigger a school’s transformation whether or not it’s failing.)

This money takeover of state legislatures by right-wingers is happening all over.

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