Arkansas angler and fishing expert Billy Murray shares his extensive knowledge of the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas
From the web
In response to "School's out forever," about the story in the July 28 issue about the last Altheimer school, closed and left to rot:
Sounds like per their own protocol they need to dismantle the State Education Department and remand the districts into federal control. Obama can appoint someone to oversee everything.
At least when they closed Williford they moved, sold or stored everything. Then they sold the buildings and land to a church group. The students were split between six surrounding districts because there was no one single district near enough to absorb them — part of the reason Williford was still open, long after the A+ Arkansas movement in the late '80s/early '90s tried to shut them down, was its designation as an isolated school that serviced a largely rural, and geographically spread population.
Great reporting. This is tragic and scary.
Laura Cox Witherington
In response to the July 21 story, "Mosaic Church celebrates its 15th anniversary":
Mosaic is doing what a church is meant to do and being what Jesus meant the church to be. Congrats on your 15 years of service to our community in 72204 and thank you!
It was my privilege to get to know some of these when I tried to represent one of the young mothers being assisted by Mosaic. The case didn't work out for any of a number of reasons. But I was greatly impressed by the care and support given my client by the advocates that work there.
They are truly doing the work of the Lord over there!
In response to the July 27 Arkansas Blog post, "Governor pushes sea change in higher education funding":
This move is part of the "accountability" in education movement that started several years ago with K-12 and has risen to higher ed. Having sat in on many of these discussions about how to make higher ed prove that it is doing the job it is supposed to be doing, I know that there is no consensus on what outcome-based performance means. People sign up for college courses for a wide variety of reasons. Many people have no intention of completing a degree, and no need to do so. They want to gain knowledge on a specific subject, or they want the experience that a semester or year of college can offer. Or they take as many night classes as they can while working a full-time job, and they take longer than the proscribed six years to finish. So, the people making the rules chose the easiest, and cheapest, way to measure success: graduation rate. Using the six-year graduation rate as the standard of an institution's success does more harm than good to these people who need only some courses. The real outcome here will be that marginal students, those who cannot or choose not to go for a degree, will be pushed out so that universities can focus on the scholarship high school kids. We have already cut the number of hours for a degree to 120 so that students can get finished in four years even if they make some mistakes in course selection along the way. This new policy is all about running education institutions like businesses: You know, make money for those at the top and screw everyone else.
Another brick in the wall
Charter college! Isn't that the next step? Privatize the public colleges and universities?
They wouldn't have "all these problems" with recalcitrant faculty — do away with tenure! — or staff. Fire 'em if they don't like their starvation wages and lack of benefits.
UA football would, of course, come out unscathed because it was effectively privatized years ago.
Meanwhile, there is no talk of charging full freight to the wealthy, out-of-state students whose parents pay zero taxes to the state. In essence, struggling state residents are subsidizing the education of the children of wealthy Texas families, through the sales tax and state income taxes. These free riders are being used by the UA admin to increase their enrollment and thus the base of wealthy future alumni who they can hit up for donations. And where do the bulk of those donors put their money? Why, the football program, in large part.
The system, as Berners would say, is rigged in favor of the plutocrats, billionaires and reactionary politicians who suck off the teats of the skybox dwellers.
Millions for athletics (and skyboxes), but not a penny for the liberal arts and sciences! We hate science anyway, because they keep talking about climate change and evolution. We just put our fingers in our ears and shout "la la la la" whenever they present their biased "research" findings that are just so much ginned-up propaganda for the socialist agenda of Barack Obama and the evil Hillary Clinton.
Meanwhile, who can believe that Asa will recommend to a dug-in, hunkered-down reactionary legislature the obvious first step in fixing the many things wrong with public higher ed in D'arkansas: Dramatically increase state funding to compensate for years of starving the beast. And put pressure on your buddies in the state's congressional delegation — who are loathe to increase funding to public institutions where public employees might see some meager raises and marginally better benefits than the miserly offerings they now "enjoy," to join with Democrats (LOL) to push in turn for increased federal funding.
In other words, Asa would have to buck the party hardliners to go against their War on the Public Sector. That, I believe, will never happen so long as he's in the governor's office.
So, rhetoric and wishful thinking aside, it seems the more Asa talks about change, the more things remain just the same.
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