And the line is open for your thought.
I'd like to call attention to some items in this week's paper, now on-line:
* Baker Kurrus has a cry of the heart and a call for community attention to the Little Rock School District, which he served as a board member for 12 years. I told Luke Gordy, lobbyist for the Walton charter school juggernaut, earlier this week that he'd be quoting this essay approvingly. Was I right, Luke?
* Speaking of schools: I've written a column about the money Jim Walton is spreading around to ease passage of his charter school and other legislation in the coming session.
* Please read David Koon's interview with the unreconstructed Loy Mauch, a Confederate sympathizer and Abraham Lincoln critic, who'll be one of the new Republicans in the state legislature. Didn't they use to call the GOP the Party of Lincoln? Loy won't.
* I also recommend a look at Ernest Dumas, who explains why Nancy Pelosi isn't the demon Republicans made her out to be with such success.
* And, in our eternal effort to look after the retail needs of Hillcrest and Heights shoppers, we report talk of a Walmart supercenter for the Riverdale shopping center.
UPDATE: I've already heard from Luke Gordy, who indeed praised the "thoughtful and pragmatic" Baker Kurrus. He also elaborated on his group's full legislative agenda. More detail follows, from his note:
Regarding what we feel are important issues that should be addressed in the upcoming legislative session... In your "Making Sausage" column, you seemed to infer that I have been less than forthright in sharing the fact that removing the cap on open enrollment public charter schools will be one of our primary legislative agenda issues.
You and I have discussed this on multiple occasions, but please know that both protecting and providing choice for students and parents who are currently in schools where they are being underserved will be a primary focus of our proposed agenda. This support will address both open enrollment public charter schools and the current choice provisions in both Act 35 and the state's current general choice provisions.
Other issues we feel are important to address include:
* support for a significantly improved teacher evaluation system (one that includes a significant percentage of the weight of the evaluation based on student learning outcomes).
* a streamlined and improved system for teacher certification here in Arkansas, including improved non-traditional and alternative certification processes, streamlined reciprocity of licensed teachers from other states and the expansion of Teach For America teachers in Arkansas, generally and the Arkansas Delta, specifically. We have got to improve both the quantity and quality of the teachers we are providing our kids.
*provide NSLA (National School Lunch) funding flexibility for schools that are performing at Levels 3 (adequately) or better on Arkansas' Act 35 performance measurements and are not in fiscal distress.
There are other issues that may, or may not, be advanced, depending, as always, on what other issues are raised during the session.