On Arkansas’s Standards, Consider the Sources. Please.

Over the past twenty months, the organizations I am privileged to serve – Arkansans for Education Reform Foundation (AERF) and Arkansas Learns – have championed initiatives which have directly and positively impacted the public education of Arkansas students. Those initiatives include, but are not limited to:

89th General Assembly (2013)

  • Act 696, To Clarify for Parents the Public School Rating System on Annual School Report Cards.
  • Act 509, To Designate Department of Education as the Primary Charter School Authorizer
  • Act 1227, To Establish the Public School Choice Act of 2013; and to Declare an Emergency.
  • Act 703, An Act for the Department of Education – Arkansas School Recognition Program General Improvement
  • Act 1280, To Provide Digital Learning Opportunities in Public Schools
  • Act 1255, To Establish the Open-Enrollment Public Charter School Facilities Loan Fund
  • Act 1429, To Amend Provisions of Arkansas Law Concerning the Arkansas School Recognition and Reward Program

Fiscal Session (2014)

  • Act 292, $5 Million Funding for Arkansas Open-enrollment Public Charter School Facilities Loan Fund
  • Act 293, $7 Million Funding of Arkansas School Recognition and Reward Program
  • Act 298, $5 Million Funding for Broadband Facilities Matching Grant Program

Charter Authorizing Panel, State Board of Education

  • Approval of Open-enrollment Public Charter School – Quest Middle School of West Little Rock


  • Reduced number of school districts exempting from Public School Choice Act of 2013 from 23 of 238 (2013-14) to 13 of 238 (2014-15)

These initiatives required that we fight and win against opponents including, but not limited to:

  • Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families
  • Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators
  • Arkansas School Boards Association
  • Arkansas Citizens First Congress
  • Arkansas Education Association
  • Arkansas Opportunity to Learn Campaign
  • Arkansas Rural Ed Association
  • Arkansas Telecom Industry Lobbyists
  • Little Rock School District
  • Pulaski County Special School District
  • Rural Community Alliance

And that’s just in the past twenty months. For years before that, my predecessor, Luke Gordy, his board and partner organizations worked tirelessly and selflessly for public education accountability, transparency, choice and rewards, all in the best interests of students over the self interests of adults.

In the most recently ended Fiscal Session, we successfully helped defeat HR1007, To Delay Implementation of Arkansas’s Common Core State Standards, which failed for lack of a second in the House Rules Committee.

That position in support and defense of Arkansas’s Standards puts us squarely at odds with the latest Arkansas education lobby, Arkansas Against Common Core (AACC). While we applaud the organization’s passion and activism on behalf of what it perceives to be in the best interests of students, we vehemently disagree with, and are vigorously opposing its attempts to do away with Arkansas’s implemented Standards.

Still, we have repeatedly and respectfully requested the opportunity to speak to AACC’s board, while offering reciprocal opportunities for the group to present to groups supportive of, or neutral on, Arkansas’s Standards. Our invitations, which have been shared in person and in writing, have yet to be accepted.

Unfortunately, rather than debating the issue on its merits, members of the group’s leadership have chosen to follow the precedent of the Arkansas Blogger on the opposite end of the political spectrum, and demonize our and our fellow supporters’ intentions. Rather than attempt to restate or paraphrase, I’ll let the AACC leadership speak (write) for themselves. What follows are just the latest comments on our Facebook posts from one of the six AACC board members:

Gary Newton/Arkansas Learns
Bentonville, Fort Smith education officials support Common Core #ARStandards

Hunter Ray (1:19 am)
Yes Bentonville & Fort Smith – those same education officials believe it’s their right to obtain information about whether you keep guns in your home too! Time to exercise your voice and kick those communists out of your schools and hire some real Americans who know those questions are against the very fabric this country was built upon. Wake the Heck Up!

Gary Newton/Arkansas Learns
Both opponents and proponents believe link below supports their positions of AR’s Standards. You? #ARStandards

http://t.co/1UGv5lOyi9 Hunter Ray (1:39 am)
Yep. Nationalized Standards & Curriculum worked wonders in the 1930’s & 1940’s for the Germans, Russians, Italians…and JEWS. Grab a history book people. It often repeats itself.

Even though Mr. Ray’s accusations and assertions are not supported by facts, reasonable people reasonably disagree every day. At the very least, we believe that we have earned the right to not have our and our partners’ support of a single issue equated to that of Communists, Nazis and Facists.

Our encouragement would be for every Arkansan to fully consider the sources and facts on Arkansas’s Standards before taking a position for or against.

To help you with that, visit RaiseOurGrade.com or Arkansas’s Standards, Like us on Facebook.com/RaiseOurGrade, and/or follow us on Twitter @RaiseOurGrade#ARStandards.

Conversely, in the true spirit of transparency and accountability, we also encourage you to attend an Arkansas Against Common Core presentation near you at your earliest opportunity. We have, and will again. Reasonably and respectfully.

Though it’s of vital importance, this is still just one issue. There is much more to be done, on multiple fronts. If you are dedicated to excellent education for all students, and to that end, are willing to go toe-to-toe or stand shoulder-to-shoulder when necessary, join us at ArkansasLearns.org.

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