by Max Brantley
Funky day. Warm. Slow. Final notes:
* CHARTER SCHOOLS: The state Board of Education put off a decision today on an application for the STRIVE Institute of Technology charter school in Marianna. The Board also rejected the KidSmart Bilingual Education Center's application for a charter school to teach up to 600 K-5 students in Spanish and English in Southwest Little Rock. Board members expressed concern about a lack of demonstration of sufficient expertise and staff to operate the school. The Little Rock School District raised questions about the sufficiency of the school's plan and also noted the state's obligation under the federal desegregation settlement not to take steps that could harm magnet and interdistrict transfer schools supported by the settlement agreement. KidSmart's lawyer, Jess Askew (an eStem charter board member), said the school would attract minority students and not cause segregation in the Little Rock School District. He endorsed the application. Board member Toyce Newton questioned whether the school had commitments from a sufficient number of bilingual teachers. Another board member, Alice Mahony, doubted whether, under the law, the school could teach English as a second language students in anything but English. Board member Vicki Saviers noted that the proposed principal had limited education and management experience. But she also said children in Southwest Little Rock needed a "viable option" to the current public schools in the neighborhood, where students are falling short of academic progress standards. Board member Mireya Reith, who is bilingual herself, had questions about ability of teachers not only to speak two languages, but to teach courses such as science and math. She brought out that only one proposed staff member had experience in a bilingual school.
* NUPTIALS: E-mail says State Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford and Robbie Thomas-Knight, a clinical psychologist, "eloped' to Eureka Springs Friday (11-11-11) and got married. Best wishes. Bradford says they joined a long line of people picking up marriage certificates in Eureka as a result of the 11/11 rush.
* SPEAKING OF INSURANCE: In making sure the photo wasn't an Internet hoax, I was finally able to ask Bradford about a news squib last week about state Rep. Allen Kerr's departure as a Farmers Group insurance representative after many years. A caller suggested subequently that there was more to the story than Kerr's statement to me that he had decided to become an independent agent. The Insurance Department has issued a brief statement saying it is investigating the circumstances of the termination of Kerr's agreement with Farmers, but can make no comment beyond that. When complete, the results of the investigation will be made public.
* TODAY'S PAINFUL HERMAN CAIN MOMENT: Five cringing minutes of Cain trying to handle a question on President Obama's handling of Libya. This is why the sex never interested me much. He's a clown. Go, Newt, go!