Another morning roundup.
* PRIVATIZING ARKANSAS SCHOOLS: By the time they were done yesterday, the state Board of Education had approved three new charter schools — in Bentonville, Little Rock and Pine Bluff — to be run by a private management corporation, Responsive Education Solutions, from Texas. Get it? A private company is going to make money — up to 15 percent of total budget — for running three Arkansas public schools with public tax dollars. The state Board turned down two other charter ideas, for K-8 schools in Pine Bluff and Little Rock, and put off a vote on a "virtual" charter school, the sweetest of all privatization schemes, where private operators score a fee for running a "school" without walls, labs, gyms, band rooms, cafeterias and the other things that go into a comprehensive education. There's a reason billionaires are pushing charter schools and it's not just about the kids. 15 percent of a multi-billion-dollar budget directed to private corporations isn't chump change.
* ASU LOOKING FOR A NEW SYSTEM VICE PRESIDENT: Today's the deadline (it was extended several days from the original announcement) for applications for a new job of vice president of strategic communications and economic development for the Arkansas State University System. The person will report to Dr. Charles Welch, the ASU System president, and work in the System's Little Rock office. At least 10 applications have come in for the post. The applicants include Mac Campbell, former aide to Sen. Blanche Lincoln and a candidate for state treasurer who's now an assistant U.S. trade representative for the Obama administration; Brandi Hinkle, communication coordinator for the state Higher Education Department, and Jeff Hankins, who recently resigned as publisher of Arkansas Business.
* ARREST IN SWLR SLAYING: Little Rock police yesterday charged Joe Bell III and Johnathan Hattison with capital murder in the Oct. 27 shooting death of Victor Rosas. The slaying was one of several crimes cited by authorities in a call for the Latino community to report crimes against them.
* THE NATURAL STATE'S WONDERS, AS TOLD TO KIWIS: Dana Deree, an Arkansas native, former teacher and devoted political animal, now serves with the U.S. State Department in New Zealand. He's featured currently on a consulate website for a travelogue about Arkansas for those who might be planning travel to the U.S. Makes the place look pretty good, with lots of photos such as the one above.
* THE MORNING SCUZZ: My part of town is blessed by a thoughtful and diligent state senator, David Johnson. He faces a vigorous challenge this year from Teabagger Republican Jim Sorvillo. You know the Sorvillo drill. Cut taxes, wreck the public schools, every-man-for-himself health coverage, more guns, personhood from the moment of sex. A flavor of how extreme Sorvillo is comes in his tired morph-Johnson-into-Obama mailer. A Republican will not miss a chance to tie a Democrat to the face of a black man. Happily, most of Sorvillo's Senate district voted for Barack Obama in 2008 as well as opposed to Sorvillo's views on every significant ballot measure you can name, from abortion to taxes. But you can't be too careful. Remember David Johnson election day, if you haven't already.