I wrote a column this week about the stunning Murphy Oil promise of college scholarships to every El Dorado High School graduate, but it's a poor effort agaisnt this tribute from a son of Union County and graduate of that very high school, Ernest Dumas. In a tribute in the Arkansas Leader, he concludes:
Bob Watson, the superintendent at El Dorado, described the Murphy promise as “absolutely the best thing that could happen to public education.” It would be hard to think of anything that should matter more. We predict that standardized test scores in El Dorado public schools will begin to rise. Watson expected the college-going rate to rise 20 percent or more. Murphy’s perpetual good deed is an example for the other titans who express a concern for public education but who invest their money in false schemes that harm the public schools and minimize learning: charter schools, private-school vouchers and incentives that force teachers to drill children all year long on standardized tests so that the teachers might claim a small bonus at year’s end.
Would that every town in Arkansas, especially in the poverty-ridden Delta, had a Murphy Corp. or a few worthy corporate citizens who had a similar vision about what to achieve with their extra fortunes. The legislature could go home and the Supreme Court could declare Arkansas schools constitutional.
UPDATE: An article in the El Dorado newspaper today says the Norphlet School District -- one of several tiny majority white districts that ring majority-black El Dorado -- has already begun considering consolidating with El Dorado on account of the scholarship deal. A "no-brainer" one official said. Indeed. Details would have to be worked out. Consolidation wouldn't be appealing if Norphlet students had to wait 12 years to qualify. And, yes, there was some concern in Norphlet about loss of their high school and mascot.