by Max Brantley
Republican gubernatorial nominee Jim Keet has scheduled a news conference Tuesday morning with Republican legislators to "show support" for rural schools.
That's easily translated code, I'm guesing. They're going to demagogue the merger of a handful of small districts that failed to meet academic standards or minimum enrollment. These mergers could produce some long bus rides for a few students (if they don't take advantage of, or have access to, choice of closer schools in neighboring districts.) It also, however, will guarantee a better education that many of them had not been receiving.
It's an old chestnut in the demagogue's larder. It's ironic, here, that the issue is a product of decisions of a state Education Board still composed of a majority of Republican Mike Huckabee appointees, endorsing school standards that Huckabee — to his everlasting credit — eventually came to champion.
Seems like the last Republican candidate for governor whipped up this issue, too. What was his name, again?
UPDATE: Today's news conference appears to be related to the Weiner School District's last-ditch effort to preserve that school district. Merging that district with neighbors, supporters said in a news release, threatens the "welfare and security of our state and country." A little dramatic, wouldn't you say?
UPDATE II: Oppo researcher notes that, while a House member, Rep. Jim Keet voted in 1989 to oppose extra state subsidies to prop up school districts with fewer than 360 students. Good vote. But that was then.
UPDATE III: It's all about Weiner.