Monday was the deadline for filing bills at the legislature, and the Arkansas legislature continued its propensity for an over-abundance of trivial and meaningless legislation
The last day stuff is sometimes filed only in shell form to be developed later. Some of it fulfills old promises and the sponsors have no intention of passing it. Some will become law. Some will merely make statements
I suspect a couple of Rep. John Walker’s last-day bills will only make statements, but at least one should become law and the statements in both are worth noting.
* CITY GOVERNMENT: His HB 1952 would change Little Rock city government. For the better. It would replace the current 10-member city board, with its pivotal three at-large directors controlled by the big money of business interests, into a seven-member board elected from wards. Simple democracy in other words. One man one vote, No more Chamber of Commerce control through the silk stocking wards and the at-large directors. It is, simply, too good an idea to pass this legislature.
* SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT QUALIFICATIONS: This one makes perfect sense and is hard to argue against in a day where a single answer on a test score can spell survival of a whole school district or a college scholarship award. His HB 1905 would require that a superintendent of a school district with more than 1,000 students — or the interim superintendent of such a district — must have scored at least a 16 on the ACT test when applying for college.
The idea has a specific intent, but it deserves reflection all the same. Sen. Jimmy Hickey wants to deny college freshmen who don’t score a 19 on the ACT (even if they fail by a single question) from getting an Arkansas Lottery Scholarship that could spell the difference between higher education or a low-paying job. A whole school district can be taken over — or released from academic distress — on the score of a single student on a standardized test if the average falls a scintilla below or above the benchmark. But back to superintendents: Should the state be paying big money — and it is a rare superintendent these days at bigger districts that doesn’t make $150,000 or lots more — people who couldn’t qualify for an Arkansas lotterr scholarship?
Here’s the back story. John Walker did a deposition — sworn out of court testimony — with Dexter Suggs when he was superintendent of the Little Rock School District. He’s now interim superintendent. Though the state Board of Education deemed the district a failure, took it over and fired the School Board it kept Suggs, the leader of the failed enterprise, in place at his $200,000-plus salary on an interim basis.
In Walker’s deposition of Suggs in an employment dispute, Suggs said he’d planned to play football in college but had to sit out his first year.
Q: Why were you required to sit out a year in order to play football?
A: Academic ineligible.
Q. I’m sorry?
A. I didn’t meet the testing requirements of the ACT.
Q. What was your test score?
A. 13, 15 — something like that.
Q. You tested 13 — between 13 and 15 on the CT?
A perfect score on the ACT is a 36. Today, the ACT says a 13-15 composite score would rank a student in the bottom 7-17th percentile of test takers.
Under Jimmy Hickey’s bill, it would NOT qualify a student for a lottery scholarship. Under John Walker’s bill, it would not qualify Suggs, if his sworn testimony is accurate, to be interim superintendent of Little Rock.