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Speaking in many tongues

The experts say that starting young is the key to mastering new languages. To that end, the University of Central Arkansas is beginning a Community Language School to offer classes on the UCA campus for K-8 students in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese and Spanish. A UCA news release noted that no foreign language courses are offered in Conway elementary schools. Students will be grouped by age for the after-school program in the coming 2007-08 school year. The classes will be 30 minutes long and taught twice a week for 10 weeks beginning Sept. 17. Participants will be able to continue in progressive courses. More information is available at www.uca.edu/wlan or by calling 501-450-3168.

We recommend …

The blogosphere’s growing niche of local news providers includes the Levy Project, www.levyproject.blogspot.com.

It specializes in news of North Little Rock’s Levy neighborhood, with a heavy dose of City Council coverage. The blog highlights unkempt yards and other items in need of correction. We really liked its recent coverage of the council, for a detailed report on remarks made during the regular public comment session of the meeting, typically overlooked by “real” news reporters, plus hot tips on coming topics, such as an ordinance regulating the placement of mobile storage containers in yards. We quote:

“Jimmy Ard, no longer MIA, says we ‘need a woman mayor’ and told Mrs. [Alderman Linda] Robinson she should consider a run for the job and he thanked Alderman Bryant for agreeing that quieting the sno-cone trucks is a critical city issue.”

A lesson in compassion

In January, the Arkansas Board of Correction reduced the confiscatory cost of telephone calls for inmates, but the calls didn’t become a bargain. A 15-minute collect call still costs $4.80 and the state takes 45 percent of that as a “commission.” It’s essentially a tax on the families of prison inmates and it raises hundreds of thousands of dollars from, typically, low-income families.

New York has demonstrated a more compassionate way of doing business. Gov. Eliot Spitzer in January ended that state’s 58 percent commission and the legislature recently made that policy law so that a future governor couldn’t reinstate the charge. The law requires that the telephone service for prisoners be awarded to the lowest bidder and guarantees fair market rates. The law, which takes effect in April, also allows both prepaid and collect calls for inmates. It’s food for thought for a compassionate Arkansas legislator.

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