Here we go again | Arkansas Blog

Here we go again

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After the usual missed connection in Chicago, I got home from Ireland last night. So I hope to be back up to speed soon.

I turned newspaper pages hurriedly last night to see what I missed. Oddly, in a country prospering because of its technical smarts, I was without computer access most days. And when I had it, I found the AD-G website impossible to load on nearly every occasion I tried, save once in the Killarney library.

I note D-G reporting on the ways in which lobbyists flout (excuse me, forget to comply) with the state's woefully inadequate law on their spending on legislators. Timely, given my column last week urging Arkansas to join Congress and go turkey on this sleazy practice.

There'll be lots more to come here on what appears to be a concerted effort to open hundreds if not eventually thousands of charter school seats in Little Rock. I note that several of these ventures are slated for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette publisher Walter Hussman's building at Third and Louisiana. I suspect before it's all over money and influence from the usual sources will back this effort.

The interesting -- and terribly sad -- development was to read Little Rock School Board member Larry Berkley's decision to take out his unhappiness on the removal of Roy Brooks on the school district he represents. He's apparently set to vote for any and all charter proposals -- no matter how untested or how damaging to the Little Rock School District. There's no demonstrable need, for example, for the state to subsidize -- at the LRSD's expense -- schools aimed at high-achieving students. There's no evidence they are being poorly served in the district today. But if you want to create an urban disaster in Little Rock, I can think of no better way than to provide a system of the functional equivalent of free private schools to divert better students from LR. That will concentrate the tough cases in a district with dwindling resources. That's the plan of the charter school crowd, of course. It's vouchers by another name and Little Rock has been chosen as the Arkansas battleground.

If Walton Foundation money is behind these efforts -- and there's no doubt they'll be getting guidance from the Walton-financed charter school development arm of the Walton-financed education department at the Walton-financed university in Fayetteville -- the Walton Foundation employee, Naccaman Williams, who sits on the state Board of Education should recuse from voting on these applications on account of a blatant conflict of interest. And no hand signals to captive board members, either, Lobbyist Gordy.

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