by Max Brantley
The Arkansas Education Department trumpets a ranking putting Arkansas No. 5 in the nation in the Quality Counts education survey and state Rep. Clark Hall of Marvell, a candidate for 1st District Congress, coincidentally weighs in moments later with a news release trumpeting the good work, no thanks to those no-goodniks in Washington that he seeks to join.
Shoot this old cynical head. But if we're so good in education, how come we're so far behind in so many categories?
The news releases follow:
STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
Arkansas Ranks Fifth in Latest Education Analysis Published by Education Week
LITTLE ROCK — Governor Mike Beebe announced today that Arkansas's public education system placed fifth nationally in the 2012 Quality Counts analysis by Education Week, a nationally respected journal of education policy.
"I am excited by Arkansas's continued rise in the Education Week rankings, but there is more hard work ahead of us," Beebe said. "We've come a long way as a state in our pursuit of academic excellence, and we'll continue making improvements that help our students and our state's future."
Arkansas ranked sixth last year and 10th the previous two years in Education Week's annual calculations. The analysis ranks states on six education policy and performance categories.
"We're very pleased about the latest sign of Arkansas's advancement in education," said Arkansas Education Commissioner Dr. Tom Kimbrell. "To be ranked fifth in the nation indicates that good things are happening in Arkansas schools. Educators and policy makers across the country are taking notice. These are OUR kids. We take very seriously our responsibility to serve each and every child in Arkansas."
Overall, Arkansas scored 81.6, which placed it behind only Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia.
Of particular note, Arkansas tied for first with Maryland in the "Transitions and Alignment" category.
Arkansas placed second in the "Teaching Profession" category. It placed sixth in the "Standards, Assessment and Accountability" category. Other categories scored were "School Finance," "K-12 Achievement," and "Chance for Success."
The analysis was compiled by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center. It surveyed the country's chief state school officers on a wide range of programs and policy and then independently evaluated the responses.
CLARK HALL NEWS RELEASE
State Representative Clark Hall, candidate for Congress in Arkansas’s First District, released the following statement today on Arkansas’s continued rise in national education rankings.
“Today, Education Week Magazine puts Arkansas public education at fifth in the nation. That didn’t happen because someone from Washington came down here and did it for us. We did it for ourselves, rolling up our sleeves and making tough choices. Washington could learn a lot from what we’ve done in Arkansas. Hard work and the willingness to make tough choices are the values and principles I’ll take to Congress as our next Representative from the First Congressional District.
“This announcement is a victory for our hardworking students, teachers and parents. They deserve the credit. We cannot rest, and we must continue to improve K -12 education in Arkansas. It’s the right thing to do for our communities, kids and grandkids. It’s also the best way to bring more 21st Century jobs here to East Arkansas.