Quote of the week
"The only problem with Guantanamo Bay is that there are too many empty cells ... As far as I'm concerned, every last one of them can rot in hell. But as long as they don't do that, then they can rot in Guantanamo Bay."
—U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, grandstanding for C-SPAN cameras in a congressional hearing over closing the military prison.
North Little Rock High School football coach Brad Bolding is being fired by his school district, in part because of an alleged violation of Arkansas Activities Association rules. It's widely assumed the violation concerns K.J. Hill, NLR High's star wide receiver who transferred into the district from Bryant. Hill's stepfather evidently received a $600 payment from a private booster club, according to AAA documents. Bolding says he did nothing wrong and is fighting his dismissal; meanwhile, NLR High has forfeited all of last year's varsity wins in football and boys basketball because "an ineligible player participated."
Fear of needles
With a debate over childhood vaccines in the national news, we thought we'd take a look at vaccination rates in Arkansas. Bad news: Arkansas ranks dead last among the states in its percentage of children aged 19 to 35 months who have received the full series of CDC-recommended vaccines. Arkansas, like 17 other states, allows parents to claim a philosophical exemption to immunization.
'Our Voice, Our Vote, Our Education'
So read a stenciled sign at a march and rally of the Little Rock School District Student Association, a group of LRSD students formed in the wake of state takeover of the district. About 100 people (most of them students) turned out last week to speak out against the dissolution of the locally elected board. Hannah Burdette, a Parkview senior who helped organize the event, said, "Our intent ... is to work with whoever it is in charge of student education, whether that's the LRSD board or the Department of Education."
Eureka springs a lawsuit
Immediately after the state senate passed Sen. Bart Hester's bill to ban local governments from creating anti-discrimination ordinances — a clear jab at LGBT people — the Eureka Springs City Council passed its own anti-discrimination ordinance. The move by Eureka Springs, which has long been a haven of tolerance toward the gay community, sets up a potential legal challenge to Hester's bill if it should become law, as it most likely will.
PARCC by the numbers
Rep. Mark Lowery (R-Maumelle) has introduced a bill to put the brakes on a new Common Core-based standardized test that's set to be rolled out in Arkansas schools only a few weeks from now. The test is designed by a consortium of states called PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), which has unraveled in recent years in part because of worries that its exam is poorly designed. Even many educators who support the Common Core State Standards say that PARCC is flawed.
26 – The number of states participating in the PARCC consortium in 2010.
10 — The number of states now remaining in the consortium.
$186 million — The amount of a U.S. Department of Education grant funding the consortium's development of the test. 4 — The number of weeks until testing is set to begin in Arkansas. Opponents of Lowery's bill say that it's too late to reverse course on the PARCC test in the current school year.