Arkansas has had many governors who were unfriendly to public education. Proudly ignorant themselves, they thought it presumptuous of others to ask for more. Besides, people who get more education are likely to want more money, and the Curtis Colemans of the state are committed to keeping workers' wages low, so that bosses' profits can be kept high. Low wages are among Arkansas's most enduring traditions.
But few Arkansas politicians have shown their disregard for education so boldly as Coleman. Schoolchildren are still valued in some quarters, education still considered fashionable. There may be no other compliment that can be paid Coleman — we know of none — but on this point, at least, he's an honest man. "Let the little buggers go out and get a job" is his theory. Asa Hutchinson may feel the same way, but he won't be as frank about it. Coleman is an opponent of Hutchinson's for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. (Some believe that the Walmart crowd's hostility to public schools is based on their belief that better education would lead to demands for better pay.)
Coleman said at a news conference that he wants to change the state's top priorities from funding an adequate education for the state's public school children to granting tax cuts. These cuts would be of more benefit to rich Arkansans than to others. For most non-Walton Arkansans, low pay is a much greater problem than high taxes.
Coleman says the tax cuts he seeks would lead to reductions in other government services besides education, but like most tax-cutters he doesn't say exactly what these would be. Talk about shutting down schools is one thing. Talk about releasing prison inmates is another.