by Max Brantley
A pressure group has formed to continue the fight to preserve a stand-alone high school in Paron, now part of the Bryant School District. It will carry on the work of Jeremy Hutchinson's legislation and dovetail nicely with his uncle's gubernatorial campaign. Stephens Media reports on the effort and how Attorney General Mike Beebe continues to say, correctly, that the legislation amounts to a rollback of education reforms meant to guarantee readily accessible quality curriculum for all high school students. (As opposed to a hazy promise of full curricula somewhere down the road -- well out of sight and mind.)
The pressure group says it's a reaction to a government movement to close rural schools. Financial necessity is closing rural schools. Even with extraorindary supplements, Paron is still a money-losing operation and wildly inefficient even at providing less than full course offerings on account of the small class sizes. That's according, not to a big government bureaucrat in Little Rock, but to the superintendent of the Bryant School District, which has annexed Paron. If Bryant's distance is an inconvenience for students, there is a very easy solution other than legislation that would open the door to survival of tiny, inadequate high schools all over Arkansas. Divide theParon territory among different districts. Also, there is school choice. Allow Paron high school students to go to, for example, Joe T. Robinson in the Pulaski School District, a mere 20 minutes (34 minutes from high school to high school according to Mapquest, but as little as 10 of 15 minutes for some students in the former Paron district) down the road. It's an excellent school with an excellent curriculum, isn't it Jeremy? It's in your district, too.