by Max Brantley
Of all people, the lead sponsor was Searcy's Rep. Mark "Bourbon and Bacon" Biviano, the terror of Markham Street traffic. Who knew of his interest in public schools? The bill has 29 sponsors in the House. All Republicans.
The state Board of Education has turned down some charter applications and noted when some existing charters have failed to live up to their early promises. This is unacceptable to the Waltons and their running dogs, like former Education Board member Luke Gordy, who makes a fat salary lobbying for them. Approve 'em and keep 'em coming is their philosophy.
Ironically, this legislation would neuter a board that devotes a powerful amount of time to the whole of Arkansas education and includes a founding board member of the eStem charter school and a banker for charter schools. The Waltons would put the legislature they helped elect in charge. The five-member commission would have a gubernatorial appointee, one from the House speaker and one from the president pro tem of the Senates (both Republican) and one each from the chairs of the House and Senate education committees (one Democrat and one Republican, but a Republican majority in both cases).
Have the Waltons or anyone else explained what's broken about the current system that requires this "fix"? They have not. Don't hold your breath.
PS — Do I really need to mention that the party of smaller government here would create a brand new, additional branch of government? Another layer of bureaucracy with which to "streamline" education?