Both sides now | Arkansas Blog

Both sides now



Gov. Mike Beebe has friends on both sides of most issues and, as has long been said, he generally sides with his friends.

I got a response to my question about the amendment that would allow more money to be sent to the scam known as a virtual charter school -- in which home schoolers get thousands paid to a company dreamed up by a Republican to divert federal and other moneys to his own pocket.

This was special language added in the Senate. A reader says it's to serve President Pro Tem Jack Critcher, who supposedly has a virtual school child. I don't know if that's true. He hasn't responded to my question about it. (UPDATE: Critcher says he didn't sponsor the amendment, but he does have a child enrolled in the Batesville schools and a virtual charter school.)

But back to Beebe: He is officially neutral on the special language, spokesman Matt DeCample says. In other words, he won't line-item veto the additional slots for home schooler payment. But, the governor's office notes, the slots become available only if some "real" charter schools fail and money that would go to those schools could then be diverted to "virtual" students. Thus, there is no additional spending authorized for home school students, the governor says. Technically, true. But it's a solid step down a slippery slope. If a charter school fails -- and since most of them are so poorly conceived, death is always a possibility -- and home schoolers pick up some more taxpayer subsidy, what  are the chances that Beebe would take that money back in 2009? I expect he'd go with his friends.

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