Gov. Asa Hutchinson today appointed three people to vacancies on the nine-member state Board of Education. The governor’s release:
Member Name: Charisse Dean
Expiration Date: 6/30/22
City – District: Little Rock, 2
Qualification: 2nd Congressional District
Replaced: Samuel Ledbetter
Charisse Dean has served on the Governor’s Council for Common Core Review. She has four children in the Little Rock School District (Mabelvale Middle School, Parkview High School, and Williams Traditional Magnet School) and has served on the Family Council Action Committee. Dean is currently the project coordinator for the Family Council and lives in Little Rock.
Member Name: Brett Williamson
Expiration Date: 6/30/22
City – District: El Dorado, 4
Qualification: 4th Congressional District
Replaced: Alice Mahony
Brett Williamson currently serves on The Murphy Foundation Board, which provides scholarships for colleges, universities and trade schools to students in El Dorado and Union County. He has three children – two in college and one in the El Dorado School District. He is part of the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Union County, El Dorado Fifty for the Future and El Dorado Works. Williamson is currently the general manager for Murphy Offices, LLC and lives in El Dorado.
Member Name: Susan Chambers
Expiration Date: 6/30/21
City – District: Fayetteville, 3
Qualification: 3rd Congressional District
Replaced: Kim Davis
Susan Chambers, who will be replacing Mr. Kim Davis, who announced his resignation at the last Board of Education meeting, has served on the board for Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and William Jewel College. She has been named Fortune Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business,” Forbes Magazine’s “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Business” and Fortune Magazine’s “Top Ten Chief Human Resource Officer’s (CHRO).” Chambers is currently the Executive Vice President of Global People, CHRO for Walmart, a position that extends past the traditional role of human resources and allows her to work on education and workforce issues, as they seek to attract and train 21st century employees. Chambers lives in Bella Vista.
I won’t presume any votes by the three, but their employers are worth noting. The right-wing religionist Family Council is a backer of home schooling and public support for private schools. Then there’s the Murphy fortune and Walmart. The Murphys and Waltons have been major backers of the so-called school reform agenda, meaning more charter schools, defeat of teacher unions and other aims of the Billionaire Boys Club. That organization was heavily involved in the legislation that Hutchinson backed to privatize the Little Rock School District, an effort that met a surprising defeat.
Dean served on the Common Care advisory council on whose recommendation Hutchinson proposed to drop use of the PARCC test for assessing student performance. Hutchinson wanted to replace it with the ACT Aspire test. The state Board voted 7-1 not to accept a contract with ACT. Ledbetter, whom Dean replaces, didn’t vote as chairman. The only vote for the ACT Aspire test came from Mahony, who’ll be succeeded by Williamson. The testing confusion continues, but Hutchinson undoubtedly feels comfortable with the philosophies of his new members.
The selections are a good indication that Hutchinson won’t follow Beebe’s balanced pattern. He appointed some people who held obvious favor with the school reform crowd (Kim Davis just went to work for the Walton Family Foundation, for example, after working for a business group supported by Walton money.) But he balanced that with appointments such as Jay Barth, a liberal Democrat (and Times columnist who teaches at Hendrix). The Family Council, Dean’s employer, was particularly upset at Beebe putting Barth, a gay man, in a position of authority over public education. Remember the tirade by Jerry Cox, leader of the group, known for its anti-gay posture? He said Barth, a distinguished professor with a Ph.D., wasn’t qualified. Charisse Dean’s qualifications I’m sure meet Cox’s exacting requirements. Dean’s Facebook page says she attended Agape College, established at Little Rock’s Agape Church in 1983. It grants associate degrees. She told the Democrat-Gazette she got one in Bible studies.