A mid-afternoon open line: Tom Cotton's dodging; racist history at charter school roots; Little Rock court amnesty | Arkansas Blog

Monday, December 16, 2013

A mid-afternoon open line: Tom Cotton's dodging; racist history at charter school roots; Little Rock court amnesty

Posted By on Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 3:05 PM

The line is open. Some thoughts if nothing else pops up:

* THE 'ORWELLIAN' GOVERNMENT: A federal judge today ordered the National Security Agency to stop collecting data on personal phone calls and destroy records of the calling history of plaintiffs in a lawsuit over the practice. Judge says this likely violates the Constitution. Calls it almost Orwellian.

* EVASIVE TOM COTTON: Raising money in Miami while he should be working, Republican extremist Senate candidate Tom Cotton ducks a video camera.  And oops, this tweet from a Miami Herald political reporter:

Doh! @RepTomCotton handlers, worried about press at Miami fundraiser, accidentally blocked Dr. who drove 90mi 2 give a check. He's angry

* TIMELY READING: The Institute for Southern Studies has an article up that seems worth a read given events today where the state of Arkansas seems intent on creating a white flight charter school in upscale western Little Rock for parents who don't want to put their kids in nearby majority black schools. Title: "Why the racist history of the charter school movement is never discussed" Charter schools are the sons and daughters of "freedom of choice."

The driving assumption for the pro-charter side, of course, is that market competition in education will be like that for toothpaste — providing an array of appealing options. But education, like healthcare, is not a typical consumer market. Providers in these fields have a disincentive to accept or retain "clients" who require intensive interventions to maintain desired outcomes — in the case of education, high standardized test scores that will allow charters to stay in business. The result? A segmented marketplace in which providers compete for the "good risks," while the undesirables get triage. By design, markets produce winners, losers and unintended or hidden consequences. 

And there's this, which has been replicated repeatedly in Little Rock:

A 2010 report by the UCLA-based Civil Rights Project, "Choice without Equity: Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards," uncovers some troublesome facts in this regard. "While segregation for blacks among all public schools has been increasing for nearly two decades, black students in charter schools are far more likely than their traditional public school counterparts to be educated in intensely segregated settings. At the national level, 70 percent of black charter school students attend intensely segregated minority charter schools (which enroll 90-100 percent of students from under-represented minority backgrounds), or twice as many as the share of intensely segregated black students in traditional public schools."

* AMNESTY FOR SCOFFLAWS: The Little Rock district (municipal) court has announced an amnesty report for people who've failed to appear on past warrants.

Details follow:

The Little Rock District Criminal Court announced an amnesty program to take place the five Fridays during the month of January 2014. The amnesty program will allow violators with past due fines and court costs as well as Failure to Appear warrants to rectify the issue without being arrested.

“The Little Rock District Court is serious about enforcing penalties and fines levied by the court,” said Judge Alice Lightle. “This amnesty program is an effort to get more violators to complete the obligations of their sentences including paying fines and court costs as well as clearing Failure to Appear warrants.”

Those with arrest warrants stemming from a failure to appear as well as past due fines and court costs must report to the Little Rock District Court Building at 600 West Markham Street between 8:00 am and 8:45 am on one of the five Fridays in January 2014. Those violators will be allowed to address any outstanding nonpayment or failure to appear issues without being arrested.

Those who take advantage of the program will have their outstanding warrants recalled with no additional fines, costs, or penalties added to the balance.

“State law allows the District Court to seize state income tax refunds to pay outstanding fines and court costs,” continued Lightle referring to Arkansas Code Annotated statute 26-36-301. “If violators take advantage of this program in January, their income tax refund will not be subject to seizure.”

Questions about the amnesty program may be directed to Natalie Short by calling (501) 371-4573.

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