Common sense in Fort Smith | Arkansas Blog

Common sense in Fort Smith

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Given the earlier item about racial overtones of a city board debate in Fort Smith, it's worth noting a quote from another Fort Smith leader about local and national reaction to another prominent black man, President Obama.

The NY Times' coverage of Obama's speech to students yesterday included some plain talk from plain talking Benny Gooden, long-time Fort Smith school superintendent.

“I’m still puzzled over the controversy,” said Benny Gooden, superintendent of the Fort Smith Public Schools in western Arkansas. “We got word that the president would admonish students to do a good job, and I said, it sounds like he’s going to give my speech.”

Still, “multiple hundreds” of parents called Mr. Gooden’s district offices. The district gave parents a “nonparticipatory option,” but, he said, some parents nonetheless kept their children home.

“Now that’s a fine solution — keep them home from school,” he said. “This is not a conservative or liberal or libertarian issue, this is an American issue, of wanting every young person to know that if you apply yourself you can have a bright future. The president gave that message eloquently, and I hope our students took it to heart.”


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