Keepin’ Reform REAL

If the Internet, specifically email, has taught me anything, it’s that ALL CAPS don’t make anything truer; they just mean the writer is shouting, albeit virtually. That, and well, kitten videos are adorable.

So, I had to grin (via emoticon) while covering my virtual ears when I saw the recent flyer distributed by the Arkansas Opportunity to Learn Campaign, which led with, “Do you believe in REAL education reform that’s based on research-proven solutions.” Click here to follow at home.

Orwell would be proud. Evidently, in this bizarro world, “REAL Reform” means STAY THE COURSE, because not once in the entire flyer do the authors list anything that needs to change. And as for the “research-proven solutions,” only one is cited, 2008’s “Report-What Is Arkansas Doing to Close the Achievement Gap?

2008?! That was five years ago, when we thought Hillary would be the next POTUS. Manti Te’o hadn’t even attended his first virtual prom. Arkansas is a national leader in education data. How about gettin’ you some fresh?

The citation has a footnote number – “2,” but for the life of me, I couldn’t find its corresponding “2” anywhere in the document. I should know. I failed a ninth grade research paper on that very issue.

On its Arkansas Public Policy Panel website, the Arkansas Opportunity to Learn Campaign lists as its Key Partners:

  • Arkansas Public Policy Panel
  • Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families
  • Arkansas Education Association
  • Arkansas Out-of-School Network
  • Rural Community Alliance
  • Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
  • Charles A. Frueauff Foundation
  • Arkansas Citizens First Congress
  • Concerned Citizens of Prescott
  • Arkansas Interfaith Alliance
  • Arkansas Commission on Closing the Achievement Gap
  • Concerned Citizens of Monticello
  • Gould Citizens Advisory Council
  • South Arkansas Education Coalition
  • Strong Community Leadership Alliance
  • Desha Grassroots Coalition
  • Arkansas Coalition for DREAM
  • University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff & Little Rock Deans of Education 

I would think the final two have some splainin’ to do, either to those who misappropriated their titles/colleges/universities or to their chancellors for their participation in this decidedly partisan effort. Which reminds me: it would be interesting to see the performance/gains of K-12 students taught by graduates of the departments of education of UAPB, UALR and every other public and private college and university in Arkansas. And while you’re at it, throw in Teach for America. The data exist, but I digress.

The flyer was distributed by Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators (AAEA) and Arkansas Education Association/National Education Association (AEA/NEA), among others, as an invitation to its Education Advocacy Day on Wednesday, February 20th. All of the events were either held at the AEA or at the Capitol. And supporters were asked to register and sign a petition at

On page two, the group shares its “Research-Based Solutions for REAL Education Reform:”

  1. Improve development and preparation of teachers.
  2. Encourage more parent, student, community & school partnerships.
  3. Expand effective after-school and summer programs.
  4. Increase access to quality Pre-K programs.
  5. Spend funds for low-income students on proven interventions to boost learning.
  6. Improve access to higher education by passing the DREAM Act and making college affordable.
  7. More effective and fair discipline policies. 

Apparently, adding “research-based solutions” to anything makes it seem more credible. You know, kind of like when they put “fat free” on Twizzlers. Or glasses on a defendant.

The flyer reserves its boldness for page three, where it attacks the alleged attackers.

Your Public Schools are Under Attack!

A group of wealthy business interests and outsiders want to abandon the progress (their emphasis) we’ve made and gamble with our kids (sic) future by allowing for-profit charter companies with dubious track records to take over our public schools.

“Their agenda could result in elimination of local school boards, creation of more segregated schools and huge gaps in accountability.

Their plan has little evidence to support it. (their emphasis) It will expand government bureaucracy, costing the state tens of millions of dollars and benefitting for-profit education companies at the expense of traditional schools.” 

As I shared in a previous post, I counted at least twelve lies in these three paragraphs alone. By the way, I love it when the AEA/NEA references these mysterious “outsiders.” You might ask their executive director, Rich Nagel, who exactly they mean by writing him at

Actually, there were many statements in the flyer with which we agree:

  • “Do you believe in REAL education reform that’s based on research-proven solutions.” Check.
  • “Do you believe our public schools are valuable assets to our communities?” Check.
  • “Do you believe ALL Arkansas students deserve the opportunity to learn in a school system that’s both effective and fair?” Check.
  • “Every child deserves access to the education solutions that are proven to work.” Check, and Checkmate!

Our difference. A goal without a plan is a wish. A plan without a goal is a program. And another smokescreen.

Let’s keep it REAL. Those adult self interests which have dominated Arkansas’s $5.3 Billion Educational Industrial Complex are lashing out at those who think it unconscionable that all of our students don’t have access to an excellent education.

And if they’re reading this, you’ve got a misspelled word in the first sentence of page 3. I know, but what can I say? I had a teacher who made me care about such things. Just sayin’.

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