The midweek line is open. I’m off to a fund-raiser for Planned Parenthood. Finishing up:

* GRADUATION RATES: The University of Arkansas Office of Education Policy has produced what it believes is the first comprehensive look at high school graduation rates, by school, in Arkansas. It focuses not only on overall rates, but rates among poorer students and does some ratings on that basis, with a focus on disadvantaged students. The link will take you to their summary and links to other elements of the work. A couple of caveats: A diploma is not necessarily a measure of achievement, depending on the standards of individual school districts. There, some correlation with test scores might — or might not — be additionally useful. A factor that might not be statistically significant but is worth remembering: Charter high schools are able, unlike conventional public high schools, to essentially force out students who don’t get with the program. If those laggards subsequently drop out of a successor school, the dropout rate is on that school, not the school that’s able to weed out students. Again, that number may or may not be inconsequential. But it’s come up in some critical assessments nationally of charter schools.


* MURDER ARREST: The Garland County sheriff reports the arrest in Hot Springs today of Steven Swanigan, a suspect in a shooting last week in which a woman was killed and a man and a 20-month-old child wounded.

* BOTH SIDES NOW: A whale of a race for state representative is coming this fall, with Republican Stacy Hurst facing Democrat Clarke Tucker for term-limited Rep. John Edwards’ seat covering the Heights and a big chunk of northwest Little Rock. Lot of money. Lots of competing interests with divided loyalties on account of having two candidates with deep ties in the Little Rock business establishment. Two things of interest in this invitation I got today for a Stacy Hurst fundraiser:


1) Note the words “independent voice” for Little Rock. No mention of Hurst’s Republican affiliation. For good reason. She’s running in a district that has voted solidly Democratic over the years and even liberal on some issues — abortion, taxes, gay rights — that are anathema to the standard issue Arkansas Republican. Financier Warren Stephens, a major Republican bankroller, is a key supporter and influential in her decision to run as a Republican.

2) Oil distributor Mike Coulson is a sponsor of the Hurst event. Mike and Beth Coulson threw a big (and successful) fund-raiser for Clarke Tucker at their riverview home a few weeks back. Mike Coulson was out front helping with car parking on the narrow residential street.


Hurst is working hard on her contacts as Little Rock city director to build campaign support, as you’d expect.