Education at the legislature: A plug for geography and a report on school 'choice' transfers | Arkansas Blog

Education at the legislature: A plug for geography and a report on school 'choice' transfers

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GEOGRAPHY: More emphasis needed in schools, legislators told.
  • GEOGRAPHY: More emphasis needed in schools, legislators told.
Benji Hardy, writing on the Legislative Digest's blog, reports on yesterday's meeting of the legislature's education committees.

A group of speakers made a pitch for more emphasis on geography in K-12 education. They argued it's been squeezed out of the curriculum by emphasis on literacy, math and science. Bro. Jason Rapert, of all people, joined in the call for more geography.

Rapert said this is representative of a larger trend favoring STEM subjects at the expense of social studies, calling it “almost an indictment of the entire liberal arts curriculum in America.”

I believe I've made that same argument on emphasis to include the disregard with which University of Arkansas muckety mucks (on the payroll of the Waltonites) view liberal arts. More from the meeting:

Also, as Senate Chair Johnny Key (R – Mountain Home) pointed out, geography teachers are not the only ones who feel this way: advocates of Arkansas history, the arts, and other curricula have complained of similar marginalization. Key suggested that groups who are “independently advocating for their subject of choice” may need to look into advocating in a broader sense rather than taking a piecemeal approach.

The same committees got some preliminary reports on the number of students taking advantage of the nearly unlimited school "choice" law passed by the 2013 legislature.

Here's the full report.

Hot Springs added the most students, more than 200. Malvern lost the most, more than 100. Malvern is where the school "choice" fight came to flower, when white parents sued so their children could leave Malvern for whiter neighboring school districts. The old school transfer law prevented transfers that contributed to segregation. Segregation is now OK under changed federal court precedent.

Sen. Joyce Elliott noted some anecdotal evidence of racially based transfers, also some transfers from small districts to larger ones (presumably with richer offerings). But there were interesting anomalies — including transfers of minority students into Bryant and transfers of white students out of Conway. More detailed analysis will follow.


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