Beebe Says Education #1 Priority

 After Budget Has Doubled In Last Ten Years -

More Money Involved Than Beebe Acknowledges

 

Evidently Governor Beebe wants to use the severance tax for roads so he can use all the extra money the Fayetteville shale economic boom produces for educational reform – the same reforms that have failed the last ten years when the budget for education has almost doubled (from $2.2 billion in 1995-96 to $4 billion in 2004-05.) 1 According to Beebe, education is more important than eliminating taxes on groceries. The Arkansas Democrat Gazette in today's paper reported that "Beebe said he would seek further reductions in the grocery tax once the state meets its essential needs, including the highest priority: education, “'It’s our No. 2 priority,'” Beebe said of grocery-tax reduction."2

 

Of course, Priority One (Educational Reform) will never allow Priority 2 (Eliminating Grocery Tax) to take place.  At the present rate of increases for educational reform, there will never be enough money in Arkansas for the citizens to have any tax relief whatsoever.  How can money spent on the following failures in education be more important than giving people a little tax relief by eliminating the grocery tax?  (Ask teachers you know just what the state of education is if you don't believe the following.  I myself have been an Arkansas teacher for about 30 years.)

 

·         Only nine states scored lower than Arkansas on the ACT test in 2007.  Arkansas dropped slightly in 2007, but the national average improved. (The ACT test is the culmination of K-12 instruction and is used by colleges all over the nation to award scholarships.)

·        The graduation rate dropped slightly more than 10% in one year according to the last educational report in Arkansas (2005-2006) the next report won't be available for a few more months.

·        College Remediation Rate is 51.6% (46.6% in 1995); National Average is 33% 

·        Only Nine States Scored Lower Than Arkansas in 8th Grade Math on NAEP Test; only sixteen states scored lower than Arkansas on the 4th Grade Reading NAEP Test, etc. in 2005.  In 2007 our scores were even lower.  Arkansas Department of Education Director said, "We have slipped a bit in terms of state rankings in all areas, save mathematics at the fourth grade."

·        Only 28% of AR students pass test on Advanced Placement (AP) courses, while 59.4% pass nationwide

·        Test Scores on nationally normed tests  are 11 Percentile Points lower in 2006 than in 1990 (a 22% decrease) (Later scores are not available yet) 

·         In its latest State of State Standards in 2006, Fordham Foundation gave Arkansas an F on its Math Standards, F on U S. History Standards, an F on World History Standards, a D in Science and a C in English for an average of F.  

·        The National Report Card on Higher Ed. gave Arkansas a D+ in High School Preparation for College in 06 in its latest report. 

 

There is probably a lot more money involved in the Severance Tax and the Fayetteville shale project than Governor Beebe is letting the people of Arkansas know.  The Arkansas Democrat reported today that "Beebe’s severance tax proposal is expected to raise $ 57 million next year, rising to possibly $ 100 million within three years."   

 

But the U of A study reported "Over the next five years, the Fayetteville Shale play could have an overall economic impact on Arkansas of $17.9 billion, create more than 11,000 new jobs, and pump $1.8 billion in new taxes into the state, according to a new analysis. They also reported that the Fayetteville Shale project had resulted in "Over $100 million in state and local taxes" in 2007 (before the severance tax increase.) 4

Not to use some of that money for tax relief when so many families in Arkansas are hurting is immoral and cruel.

 

Iris Stevens,

An Arkansas public school teacher of  about 30 years

 

Documentation

1. Schools get more money, by Seth Blomeley Arkansas Democrat Gazette, June 16, 06.  

 

2.  Beebe suggest he will seek highway bond vote in 2010 , Friday, March 28, 08 by Charlie Fragohttp://www.nwanews.com/adg/News/221049/

 

3.  Huckabee and the State of Education in Arkansas http://www.wpaag.org/Huckabee%20-%20State%20of%20Education%20in%20AR%20II.htm

 

4. UA STUDY: SHALE PLAY IMPACT - $17.9 BILLION  http://www.talkbusiness.net/Weblogs/WeblogItemDetail.aspx?WebLogItemID=0618e539-2781-4ab6-923e-91bc4ade2503&WeblogID=2c1ca2ae-06e6-4883-9e3a-554f31d9db55