Warren Stephens gave $50,000 for the campaign to convince us to vote for a state lottery to pay for college scholarships. He says this initiative, if successful, will give a lot of young people a chance.
Rather than give to a campaign to pay for scholarships by lottery losers, why not do for Arkansas what Claiborne Deming has done for El Dorado? Out of his company's pocket pay the tuition up to the highest charged at an Arkansas state college to any school that a student can get into. It would be for students who get neither academics or need-based scholarships. Why not help the students who need it with their room and board?
If he needs help from the rest of his family and the Waltons, too, why wouldn't they if they really care for our students and their state?
The El Dorado scholarships have brought new residents to their community and caused new homes to be built. Why wouldn't statewide scholarships do that for the whole state?
More college graduates would bring in high-tech and management jobs.
Lack of respect
I am writing this letter to you to express the disgust I felt when while driving to work Sunday morning. I heard Bill Vickery talking on Radio KABZ about the loss of Bill Gwatney. While he was saying nice things about him he did not have the common courtesy to refer to him as chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas. Instead he chose to refer to him as chairman of the Arkansas Democrat Party, a non-existent entity.
I realize that for some reason Republicans feel compelled to use the word Democrat as a slur. But why even in moments like this he still felt compelled to do so I will never understand.
I am a black man and I get the same visceral reaction every time I hear one of those bozos say Democrat Party instead of Democratic Party that I got growing up in the '50's and '60's hearing a white man saying Nigra instead of Negro.
Vickery showed the same kind of disrespect every time he did that. I don't know how this country will ever be able to get out of the multitude of messes the Bush administration has gotten us into if Republicans insist on being so disrespectful and insulting even in the most solemn of circumstances.
I hope that Vickery will apologize to the Gwatney family and maybe even do a little soul searching. We are all Americans and should at least be able to show common courtesy in dealing with each other.
I called Bill Vickery's show Sunday to voice my opinion and when his call screener heard the reason for my call he hung up on me.
Back to school
In response to the letter from Renee Taylor from Warren:
The timing of reading the back to school article was quite ironic. I'm a public school teacher and yesterday I sat down with my receipts to see how much I'd spent already on school supplies. I'd forgotten spiral notebooks and made yet another trip to Wal-Mart to catch them on sale. I read briefly through the Times in the car trying to remember what else I'd forgotten to purchase. I'm sitting already at about $300, and oh yeah, I don't have any children of my own. I'd be happy if all students came prepared with any color of pencil. In reality, due to no fault of their own, this isn't always the case. I don't blame the parents. See, they live in the same society that I do. We are all feeling the high gas and food prices. People have lost their jobs and taken pay cuts and no one is protected from it. Even when that child shows up for the first day of school completely empty handed, I know that the parents sent one very important thing. They sent their pride and joy and the best that they had. My job has now begun. I have to educate their best while the child may be hungry, needing new clothes, may be suffering from abuse at home, may be in need of glasses, health insurance, medical care and dentistry. The powers that be, determine where public monies go. I teach special education. We have No Child Left Behind that looked good on paper but was never funded. Special Ed classrooms have less supplies and resources than any. However, somehow with limited resources, children functioning below the poverty level and with teachers being held hostage to test scores, we educate. We touch the life of a child and strive to improve it. I am a National Education Association member. They remind me that I must put my personal thoughts about gay/lesbian/transgender individuals behind me and remember that great public schools are the basic right of every child. If the student or their parents fall into these categories, I do not turn them away. I have a job to do. Public schools socialize students to understand that there is a world outside of their home.
I was privileged to attend the very first Argenta Art Walk in downtown North Little Rock. As one of the founding members of 2nd Friday Art Night in Little Rock, it did my heart proud to know that after many years of hard work, Little Rock and North Little Rock now have enough arts venues to cover two art walks on two different weekends.
I applaud the artists, business owners, and city leaders who made Argenta Art Walk become a reality, and I hope it continues to grow and become a permanent venue for the area — the more cultural opportunities, the better for all of us!
Debra S. Wood, owner
River Market ArtSpace
Americans, reach out
In 1962-64 I was in Tanzania as a Peace Corps nurse. I saw masses of people die like flies. No medicines, no supplies. It still breaks my heart at my 70 years. The absolute best I could do was never enough.
I learned more about myself in two years than I could ever have given to the Tanzanians. They taught me so much about life.
No preaching intended. If we as Americans could reach into our souls, get out of our own cocoons and put their shoes on our feet, walk a mile with them, guess what, it might change this old world of ours.
Oh, yes, when I got off the plane at JFK in 1964, I got down on my hands and knees and kissed the ground. I know how lucky and blessed I was to be an American.
Beverly A. Clary
Obama and Clinton
Republicans, when will the hate stop? When will you people stop the code words? That's what they did in Mississippi where I was raised. If you were a black man and acted like you were smart, you were beaten or killed. The words used were uppity, arrogant and elite. This is what the Republicans are doing now, bringing all those negative things back. This is 2008. I thought my country was better than that. Some people will say or do anything to get elected.
This business of asking Barack Obama to help pay off Hillary Clinton's big debt is ridiculous. If she had stopped her campaign when the money ran out, she would not have had this big debt. The Democrats are going to need all the money that Obama can raise to run against John McCain. The Clintons, with their millions, can pay off their debt themselves instead of asking hard-working people to finance Hillary Clinton's ego.
Reflections on July 4
Like many of you this Fourth of July weekend, I displayed my American flag, watched fireworks, and ate too much barbeque. But it was the playing of our country's patriotic songs that got me to thinking, and now writing. It is time for us to change our national anthem.
Francis Scott Key wrote the words to the Star Spangled Banner after watching, from a British ship, Fort McHenry getting attacked during the Battle of Baltimore in the middle of the War of 1812. The lyrics have often been criticized for their tendency to glorify war (“...rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air...”, there's even more in the verses that follow the first). I personally don't care for some of the other, morbid language within the other verses. We won the Battle of Baltimore, and later the War of 1812, but keep in mind our national anthem is rooted in America's getting attacked. I vote we look to another song, one with less firepower and more pure, inspirational language. Like “O Canada!” and “God Save the Queen.”
This weekend we sang “America the Beautiful.” This song exalts prosperity (waves of grain... fruited plain), proclaims “grace” has been “shed on thee”, seeks God to mend its ev'ry flaw, champions the sacrifice of its soldiers (“Who more than self their country loved”), and calls for national “brotherhood” to “crown [its] good.” And it gets better. Katherine Bates composed these lyrics during a train ride across the country.
Let's keep the bald eagle. Let's keep flying our flag. Let's keep Uncle Sam pointing at us and wanting us. But let's thank Mr. Key for a great creation, set his song aside, and let Ms. Bates' fine words tell the world what is important to us as Americans.