in Little Rock, AR
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Arkansas Democrat Gazette
121 E Capitol Ave
Little Rock, AR 72201 Directions
WASHINGTON President Donald Trump on Tuesday described the killing of a Saudi journalist as a botched operation and a bad original concept as his administration took its first, careful steps toward punishing the Saudis by moving to revoke the visas of the suspects.
The family that owns a drug company is now being sued over the toll of opioid painkillers in one New York county and it&39s likely to be sued by hundreds more.
HUIXTLA, Mexico Still more than 1,000 miles from their goal of reaching the United States, a caravan of Central American migrants briefly halted their arduous journey Tuesday to mourn a fellow traveler killed in a road accident, and to rest weary, blistered feet and try to heal illnesses and injuries suffered on the road.
After asking the manager at the Superstop store here for several Mega Millions tickets Monday, Sharon Hall of Bauxite asked her, Am I nuts
A man was stabbed in the head and neck early Sunday during a fight outside a North Little Rock mall, authorities said.
201 E Markham St
Little Rock, AR 72201 Directions
State Education Commissioner Johnny Key met with reporters Tuesday afternoon to explain his rejection of a teachers union contractwith the Little Rock School District, a move that has the Little Rock Education Association up in arms. The LRSD has been under state takeover since January 2015, meaning Key acts as the school board for the district.Key said today he has directed LRSD Superintendent Mike Poore to present the union with modified language to its professional negotiated agreement, or PNA, that would force it to agree to a waiver of the Teacher Fair Dismissal Act. That means the state labor law that provides due process protection for firing teachers in other Arkansas public schools would no longer apply to teachers at campuses in Little Rock that recently received a D or an F grade under a new accountability system. There are 22 such schools in the district, Key said. Other schools, however, would remain subject to the law, effectively creating two classes of employees within the LRSD. The meeting, which took place on the third floor of the Education Department building near the Capitol, was not open to the general public. Department officials escorted reporters upstairs to meet with the commissioner.Two Capitol police officers were stationed near the lobby of the building.Key told reporters that recently released school ratings for 2018 show there has been insufficient progress in improving academic performance in several schools in the LRSD. The district needs greater flexibility to address staffing changes in the struggling schools than what the negotiated agreement currently allows, he said. Key cited high absenteeism among teachers as evidence that staff is the problem. This is across the district over half of the classroom teachers in 2017-18 were absent 10 days or more. He acknowledged that the missed days could be caused by many things, including scheduling, school culture and professional development requirements. But, he still implied that much of the problem was teachers taking too much time off. I mean something has to give. Look, if youre not going to come to work, weve got to get somebody in those classrooms that will be there and can do the job and will do the job, he said. However, Key could not give any specific examples of the LRSD being unable to dismiss an underperforming teacher. He said district principals have reported to me that there are situations where they need to make some moves but theyre hamstrung by the process. When asked whether the fair dismissal act has hindered firings, he said he could only recall one example of a teacher who worked in a pre-K who sought protection through the fair dismissal process. She was later terminated, he said.Key insisted that he wasnt bashing teachers and noted that some principals or other administrators may need to be changed as well. He said he wasnt concerned that creating two classes of schools with different standards of labor protection within the same district could lead to a difficulty in recruitment at the schools where the fair dismissal act did not apply. No, Im not, because there are teachers right now that are not members of the union, he said. There would be protection, because there would still be a grievance process thats in the PNA. ... Theres due process.Asked whether the department would seek waivers for the fair dismissal act in any of the many other D and F rated schools around the state, Key said it would not, because the state board hasnt taken over the majority of those districts. The department is still evaluating what to do in the Pine Bluff district, which was only recently taken over.State Sen. Joyce Elliott D-Little Rock, who listened in on the meeting, said afterward that Keys plan will be devastating for morale in schools where its applied. A former teacher herself, she took issue with the assumption that teachers are the problem with struggling schools. The problem could be the principals, it could be the teachers ... or it could be what we all know that it probably is: poverty and lack of opportunity and people who are marginalized to start with, she said.Key portrayed his approach to the union as a moderate approach. He noted that in anearlier state takeover of the Pulaski County Special School District before Keys tenure as commissioner, the districts contract with the union was simplyterminated, full stop.Look for the last three years, Ive had pressure to just do away with the union. Not even sign the agreement. Do like the state did in Pulaski County. I have willfully chosen not to do that, because with the leadership of LREA at the time, the work that they did with Mr. Baker Kurrus and the work that they did with Mr. Poore, I felt like we might get somewhere. But when I see these results that were released just a couple of weeks ago and understand that there is something else thats missing and looking at the structures that are in place to move this school district forward, this is one of those impediments, he said. Key didnt clarify who exactly was pressuring him to eliminate the union. Elliott suggested later it was business interests. The people that have money, the people who have power ... Im sure thats who the pressures coming from to just get rid of that contract. Because it has long, long, long been one of Arkansas Democrat-Gazette publisher Walter Hussmans issues to get rid of that contract. Hussman is a longtime critic of the district and the teachers union. And hes not the only one. Because the Chamber of Commerce sees teacher contracts and negotiations of any kind they see that as a problem, if anybody who works has those kind of rights, she added.When asked what responsibility the Education Department bore for the LRSDs lackluster academic performance after running the district for almost four years, Key noted that there had been some increases. But theyve been inconsistent, he said. Of the six schools that were originally deemed to be in academic distress thus prompting the takeover three were later removed from the list, Baseline Elementary and J. A. Fair and McClellan high schools. But, Key added, theyve slipped back and are struggling, which means that the improvements there, the gains, were simply not consistent.State Rep. Charles Blake D-Little Rock, who attended the meeting, noted afterward that those schools had slipped on Keys watch.Waivers to state education law can be provided by the state Board of Education, but the fair dismissal act is typically excluded from those waivers. However, a 2017 overhaul of the states school accountability statute the rules and regulations for which have just been promulgated allows an exception. The state Board of Education may now waive the fair dismissal act in districts classified as being in Level 5 intensive support, which Little Rock is in. That label replaces the old academically distressed label that originally led to the takeover. The new law would seem to clear the way for the LRSD to ask the state board for a waiver to the fair dismissal law if it wished. However, Key explained, the Little Rock unions PNA specifically states that the district must adhere to the Teacher FairDismissal Act and the Public School Employee Fair Hearing Act. Thus, his desire for a new contract. Key is seeking language in the PNA that states the district and the union agree to support a waiver of both laws, but only for schools receiving a grade of D or F under the new school rating system. Teresa Knapp Gordon, the president of the local union, said it would be impossible for the Little Rock Education Association to sign an agreement that stated the unions support for waiving the fair dismissal act. We cant do that. Theres no way we can do that, she said after Key held his meeting with reporters.The changes would help principals in the lower-performing schools making staffing changes moving into the 2019-20 school year, Key said. When asked whether theyd apply mid-year, Key said, No ... that would not be my intent at all. He also downplayed the extent of staffing changes that would actually occur. Im pretty sure that it would not be drastic. I think it wouldnt be used like a chainsaw, itd be more like a scalpel, he said.
Blue Hog Report says that the Ethics Commission has confirmed it will investigate what appears to be an ethics law violation he found in Attorney General Leslie Rutledges campaign records a May 21 contribution of $2,700 from the Republican Attorneys General Association eight days before the PAC was registered in the state.Lets not kid ourselves. Even if the Ethics Commission upholds the obvious, the mulligan rule put into law with leadership from the felonious Jon Woods probably means this can be fixed without a foul call. Or maybe a mild caution by the Republican-controlled commission to be more careful in the future.Youd think Rutledge WOULD be a little more careful as current leader of RAGA, which rakes in corporate cash at deluxe retreats to spread around to the right kinds of candidates.Rutledges Democratic opponent, Mike Lee, used the occasion to note again that RAGA had raked in $1 million from the opioid industry. He commented further: It appears this ethics complaint against my opponent is justified. The Attorney General should immediately return the illegal PAC contribution. Moreover, she should explain to the public why she continues to raise money from the opioid industry to fund political campaigns. I look forward to the Ethics Commissions findings. Voters deserve a swift conclusion to this matter. said Lee.Lee said it was past time for the commission also to act on his complaint against former Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson for using campaign money for personal expenses. Hutchinson additionally faces federal charges related to that spending.
Jared Henderson, the Democratic candidate for governor, has blasted the move by Education Commissioner Johnny Key to weaken job protection for certain Little Rock School District teachers. He says its of a piece with Gov. Asa Hutchinsons empty rhetoric about education.Ive sought a comment from the governor. Meanwhile, heres Hendersons statement: Jared Henderson, candidate for governor, released a statement Tuesday following the news of Education Commissioner Johnny Keys move to weaken the Little Rock Education Association, a teachers union that has held strong in advocating for educators amidst a state takeover of the school district. Just this past weekend, Governor Hutchinson released a statement full of empty rhetoric on his hollow support for Arkansas teachers and the protection of their benefits. It comes as no surprise to our educators that days later he has let them down, yet again, with the announcement of his appointed Education Commissioners decision to strip Little Rock teachers who are serving in our highest-need schools of a chance to have fair hearings and dismissals, Henderson said. Teachers in 23 Little Rock schools, the number of those rated D or F by the state, are facing removal of protections like hearings or dismissals. Our education system in Arkansas is never going to live up to its full potential if we dont stop demeaning the teaching profession through low wages, endless bureaucracy, and turning a blind eye to underfunded districts particularly in our lowest income areas. Teachers deserve more than feel-good political promises during an election year they deserve the respect, pay and other policies commensurate with the vital importance of their profession, Henderson added. If we want the best for our kids, we need to make being a public school teacher one of our most desirable professions - especially in our highest need schools. The administrations steps today take us in the opposite direction. Our teachers want healthy accountability and believe in high expectations for everyone from the Governor and Commissioners office all the way down to our precious students - but they know we do not need to weaken fair due process to achieve it.
Heres the open line. Also todays news and comment.
Baker Kurrus and State Rep. Warwick Sabin,candidates for Little Rock mayor, have jumped in on Education Commissioner Johnny Keys rejection of a teacher contract that doesnt allow firing teachers at will. Both raise questions about waiving state law as the first means to address school improvement, Kurrus most pointedly, with references to the charter school drain encouraged by Key and the unfairness of singling out Little Rock schools for this. Kurrus posted a statement this morning on Facebook: Commissioner Johnny Key has asked many of Little Rock School Districts teachers to agree to a waiver of state law which provides almost all of Arkansass public school teachers with fundamental due process rights with respect to their employment. The commissioner has raised this issue after months of negotiations between Little Rocks superintendent and teacher representatives. This will force Little Rocks teachers to make a very difficult decision on short notice. Should they defend their state law rights, or give up a fundamental right of employment which they have had since they were first hired It seems unfair in any event to raise such a major issue at the end of a negotiation. This type of negotiation does not build trust and cooperation at a time when those two fundamental elements are essential to the success of LRSD. It also undermines the authority of the school districts primary negotiator, the superintendent. We all want our schools and students to be successful. The state has been in control of LRSD for almost four years. During this period Little Rock has lost students to new schools in our community which have either been started or expanded with the states permission. If the students who left were higher performing, the average scores of the remaining students were driven down by this state action, at the time when the state itself was in control. It would also be helpful to know the academic achievement levels of students who left LRSD, but then transferred back to LRSD because the competing schools were not accommodating the special needs of these students. This basic conflict of interest needs to be addressed, or at least accounted for. It would be helpful now to know these facts, which are available to the state. I would urge the commissioner to step back from his demand and provide more information which would allow the community to understand the reasoning and purposes behind his action. I would also urge that the deadline of October 31 be extended so that the teachers in all of Little Rocks schools are not forced to defend the basic rights which have been afforded to all teachers in traditional public schools in our state for many years. If a major change in state law is needed, it would appear that the legislature should take up the matter, so that any change would apply equally to all schools which are similarly situated, rather than just to schools in LRSD. In any event, the school year is underway, and teachers are under contract until the end of the year. As a practical matter no changes in schools could be made until next school year. I would ask that the parties extend the current agreement, employ a mediator if necessary, and get to work improving results rather than forcing an unnecessary showdown. If I can be a volunteer facilitator in any of this, please count me in. Sabin issued this statement in the afternoon: The directive issued by state Education Commissioner Johnny Key demonstrates the problem with having a one-man unelected school board making unilateral decisions for the Little Rock School District. We need to do everything we can to improve our schools, but there is no evidence that waiving state laws that were adopted through a deliberative democratic process will solve any problems. Instead it is likely to create more uncertainty and instability that will further undermine the LRSD as it faces great challenges. It also doesnt make sense to single out teachers for corrective action when we should be doing everything we can to attract and retain high-quality educators. We need a collaborative approach that includes teachers, administrators, parents, students, and most importantly an elected school board that directly represents the interests of every citizen in our city. Amen to both. Ive also asked for comment from Frank Scott. I also sent Key a series of questions today. He didnt release that statement yesterday. I obtained it from a source and published it. The Democrat-Gazette later developed a story. I was curious, for one, about his reference to an Oct. 3 agenda. But Im more curious to know how he explains a lack of advancement of the district under four years of state control. Doesnt his department, now in charge, share responsibility What about the school board, i..e., Johnny Key. The state fired the last school board because six of 46 schools were deemed deficient. The number is now up to 23. What about the principals Does Key not place responsibility on them Why have so few of them been replaced What about his hand-picked superintendent, Michael Poore No, Key wants to fire teachers. I have asked a very specific question that deserves an answer. How many teachers has LRSD wanted to fire but found stymied by the state teacher fair dismissal law, which provides some due process and protection from whims of a poor supervisor Also, is LRSD the first step in rolling back fair dismissal wherever a school is judged in academic distress I think I know the answer.
KETS-TV 2 - PBS
350 S Donaghey Ave
Conway, AR 72034 Directions
Film lovers, dont miss the chance to join us at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Oct. 19-27 at The Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa HSDFF will screen seven shorts and a feature documentary from AETN, as well as hosting AETNs Emerging Filmmaker Program and a special pie tasting event.
PBS The Great American Read is quickly coming to the finish line Dont miss the finale Tuesday, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m., and read on to learn how you can win copies of some of your favorite novels in a special AETN contest.
Join AETN and the Museum of Native American History in Bentonville for a free, advance screening of Native America Saturday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m. and special features of AETN original digital shorts taped during the 2018 Native American Cultural Symposium. Native America, a four-part history weaving history and science with living Indigenous traditions, premieres on AETN Tuesday, Oct. 23, at 8 p.m.
Are you ready AETN is your newhome for high school sports championships Inpartnership with the Arkansas Activities Association, AETN will broadcast the2018 2A-7A high school football state finals live from War Memorial Stadiumbeginning Friday, Nov. 30. Games will be available to watch onlineafter broadcast.
October 15-21 is National Estate Planning Awareness Week. Learn how you can make decisions now that help protect your family and fulfill your wishes and how you can request a free estate planning booklet today.
KTHV-TV 11 - CBS
720 S Izard St
Little Rock, AR 72201 Directions
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Fall 2018 Arkansas Drug Take Back October 27 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
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