As late as noon today, Sen. Mary Anne Salmon of North Little Rock was reportedly resisting Republican Sen. Gilbert Baker's pressure to vote for his bill to effectively take the cap off open enrollment charter schools in Arkansas. He and the Billionaire Boys Club apparently wore her down. She provided the decisive fifth vote to get the bill out of the Senate Education Committee today.
The Billionaires had purchased House passage by strategic support long ago. Salmon aligned with four Republicans — Baker, Hendren, Key and Holland — to get the job done for the Walton-Hussman-Stephens-Murphy combine.
The bill provides for an automatic escalator of allowed charters by five every time the number approved comes within two of the cap. Given the typical applications each year, the change amounts to a cap removal.
The committee voted after hearing a number of opponents of the legislation, including a speaker who cited a new study that shows open enrollment charter schools do no better than conventional public schools in improving student test scores when like groups of students are compared.