Thursday, June 09, 2005

Court Votes to Re-Open Lakeview Case

By Mark Moore (click "comments" below for article).

24 Comments:

Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

In a decision that made few happy outside of the 48 plaintiff school districts, the State Supreme Court voted 4-3 to re-open the Lakeview school funding case.

The four justices that voted for the courts re-asserting control over the schools are Justices Robert Brown, Tom Glaze, Donald Corbin and Betty Dickey. Brown was considerd the swing vote by some, though it raised some eyebrows that Huckabee-appointed Betty Dickey also opted to re-open the case. Brown is up for re-electon in 06. He has no opposition at this point, but some voters may well remember this if he does draw an opponent.

The dissenting justices were Chief Justice Jim Hannah and Justices Jim Gunter and Carol Dalby.

Chief Justice Hannah is quoted by the Arkansas Times in his dissent as saying, "There is no appellate jurisdiction in this case because there is no order from a lower court to review in this case, which is what appellate courts do." He also says that the ruling violates the separation-of-powers doctrine, because in Arkansas, "the responsibility for the creation, organization and regulation of the public school system is within the exclusive province of the legislature." Therefore, the court's action is a "usurpation of the legislative function" that "make[s] this court a superlegislature."

The other four justices seemed to feel that questions of juristiction must be swept aside due to the importance of the issue. Corbin wrote, "to do so (rule they had no jurisdiction) would send the signal that our resolve to ensure a constitutional education system was less than strong."

Betty Dickey put it like this, ". . twenty-two years is time enough to achieve compliance with the Constitution. We cannot wait for other cases to wend their way through the system, while hoping that successive legislative sessions don't "go wobbly" in their resolve to put the educational needs of the children first."

Gov. Mike Huckabee, who recently appointed Dickey to the court, expressed disapointment with the decision. One report had him declaring that the judges were "legislating from the bench" with their ruling.

Critism also came from the Democratic side. AG Mike Bebee released a statement that reads in part, "I am confident that we can defend the actions of the Legislature and the Governor. Arkansas taxpayers have dedicated more than $700 million in new revenue toward improving education, and those reforms will be effective if given time to produce results."

What do you think of the ruling? Will it mean another massive tax increase? Have the courts overstepped their bounds? If so, what should we do about it?

8:19 PM, June 09, 2005  
Blogger terrymcdermott said...

To me this is nothing but a confusing mess. But then again everything the goverment does these days is a confusing mess.

9:43 PM, June 09, 2005  
Blogger Arkansas Pachyderm said...

This is judicial overreach at its worst. This make the second time the SC has recalled the case after it said the case was over.

I recommend everyone read the ruling. The language is scary...they ruled that they can intervene at any time. This means they are now acting as a perpetual watchdog over K-12 education in Arkansas.

10:25 PM, June 09, 2005  
Blogger Arkansastravler said...

Mark, I know this is way off subject but I have a question and no way of getting a hold of you. There was a story in the AP yesterday about Huck running for president. I wanted to alert you so you could post it but didn't have a way. How is this possible when stories come up? Keep up the good work.

8:07 AM, June 10, 2005  
Anonymous The Anonymous Coward said...

Mark,

I have heard that Mike Beebe and his team did a pretty sorry job representing the state in these hearings. I believe that his public statements are simply a political stage show to help him get elected, but behind the scenes he was working the other side. Add this to the fact that Justice Dickey concurred and this whole debacle looks like another case of the foxes gaurding the hen house. I am wondering if anyone else has heard these same things and if they have more details about the Attorney General's handling of this matter?

Signed,
The Anonymous Coward

7:17 PM, June 10, 2005  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

AC,

Good conspiracy theory! I am serious. Conspiracies do exist, otherwise every state in the union would not have laws against "criminal conspiracy".

I know both Dems and GOP want to destroy the local schools because they want power. They want centralized control. They want to get away from a broad based "liberal arts" education in favor of giving all but a few kids a narrow, technical education. That way big businesses can get the taxpayers to fund their training programs. That means the politicos can get campaign donations from these companies in hopes that they will be the ones favored with the subsidized training.

IF there is a big hospital in the area, train 1,000 girls a year to be nurses. That way, the market will be flooded, they can take only the best and still treat them like dirt because there is an oversupply and because they are too narrowly educated to try a differnent field. What about the rest of the 1,000 girls? "Do you want fries with that?"

7:34 PM, June 10, 2005  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

traveller,

if you look beneath the archives, the e-mail address to contact is chairman @ cparkansas.org.


Please do update us!

7:35 PM, June 10, 2005  
Anonymous Mark Moore (moderator) said...

The judges are WRONG! Please compare what Article 14 Section One actually says and compare that to the meaning they impose upon it.

"the State shall ever maintain a general, suitable and efficient system of free public schools"

The courts position is that the current funding system violates this clause because some school districts, through the free choice of their own citizenry, have better funded districts than others.

In addition, the court strongly implies that the total amount of funding provided for schools is inadequate to meet the requirements of this clause.

You cannot impose on communities better schools than the people of those communities are willing to support. Not all communities value education equally, and it is tyranny for the courts to impose a higher value for it than the community supports.

If this judicial edict is acted on in the way the court seems to demand, all that will happen is that the communities willing to spend more will lose their incentive to fund for excellence- since any extra funding will be given to communities who have less. People will have resentment against new taxes being imposed on them. Schools will face hostility from the community instead of the support they should have, and would have if the funding schools get is by consent of the community.

The Constitutional article nowhere says that the education provided must be equal, as if government could ever do such a thing short of taking children away from their parents and raising them in camps. It is vanity to think that government can impose equality of education on communities of vastly different values, habits, attitudes, and traditions. The best that can be done is that the state can provide an educational opportunity "suitable" for that community.

Suitable. That is the word the article uses, but by judicial sleight-of-hand the word "suitable" is altered into "substantially equal". The dictionary defines suitable as "fit for its purpose". Suitable for what purpose? The Article says that schools are for the purpose of promoting "intelligence and virtue" as a bulwark of free and good government. One may argue that they are not doing that because of content or practice, but clearly suitable does not mean "equally funded". Yet as far as the state portion of school funding goes, it is equally funded. It is more than equally funded. The rich districts are seeing some of their local taxes distributed to poorer districts.

Article Two Section 18 "The General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen or class of citizens privileges or immunities which upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens".

No one is being forced by the General Assembly to live in a given school district. Everyone has equal opportunity, at least as far as state law is concerned, to live in any district they so choose. If someone cannot live in an affluent district, it is not because the General Assembly has prevented them from doing so, or because it has granted to others a privilege of living there that they have not otherwise earned. It is not a result of the general assembly's actions that some districts are better funded than others, it is a result of the choices of the people in those districts.

Look, section six of the same Article says "all persons may freely write and publish their sentiments on all subjects". That is a valuable right, but is the state in violation if I don't have as much access to AETN as Governor Huckabee? What if a University Press prints the writings of some of its professors for no charge to him, but refuses to print this article? Is it a violation? Of course not. The General Assembly did not prevent my becoming Governor, or a college professor. Those people made choices that helped to put them where they are, and their bully pulpit comes with the territory.

Some choose to freely associate with communities who value education highly, others are unconcerned about that. No one class or group is being told by the general assembly that they cannot attend the public schools where they live, or that they cannot live where the best schools are.

Every town, and every district, should have an equal opportunity, under the law, to build a great school. That does not mean they will choose to take advantage of that opportunity. I say it is no violation of Article two (equal protection and equal rights) if community "A" chooses to spend less of its own dollars on its own schools than does community "B". Indeed it could be argued that taking dollars from a richer community to give to a poorer district is a violation of this article. This practice discounts the rights of the wealthy in favor of the poor, whereas the Article's sections insist that all Arkansans should have EQUAL protection and rights under the law.

Deciding to confiscate the property of the wealthy to distribute to the less wealthy for whatever reason is hardly a situation where everyone has equal rights, for in such a case the more wealth one has, the less protection and right one has to keep their assets. This keeps the individual down and the government up, which is just the way the government elites like it. This is called socialism, and there is not one place on Earth or in History where it has ever worked. It won't work for Arkansas' school children either. It does not raise the lower up, it merely brings the more excellent down.

So what is the solution to the manufactured "school funding" crisis? Impeach the so-called "justices" for bad conduct in office, and for violating their oaths to "uphold the Constitution". If a judge was caught visiting a prostitute should they be removed from office? Yes they should, and yet that offense would be a minor one compared to what the judges are actually guilty of - violating their oaths of office.

8:58 PM, June 10, 2005  
Anonymous Mark Moore (moderator) said...

In addition to impeaching the "Justices" who dare to subvert representational government, separation of powers, and the Constitution they swore to uphold, we need to reform judicial elections.

As it now stands, judges campaigning for office are prevented by law from answering any questions about specific cases or even judicial philosophy as it applies to cases. Basically, they can only tell you where they went to law school and that they would be "fair". This should be changed. We should be able to ask, for example, if Roe vs. Wade was a sound ruling.

No doubt some will say, "But this would lead to judges promising to rule on certain cases in a certain way." Precisely. We the people have to know at the least whether judges have an expansive or narrow view of their role in interpreting law. We have a right to know if judges will undo the work of our elected representatives by manufacturing from our Constitution new meanings out of thin air.

Could this lead to corruption? If the people are corrupt, of course. But if the people are corrupt, no form of self-government can long endure. At any rate, we have corruption now, in the form of judges who abuse their office to subvert our Republican form of government in favor of their elitist tripe. Judges can be corrupt and wrong, just like populations can.

Both major parties are using this pseudo-crisis in an attempt to further their own agenda, which in both cases is expanded government and more centralized control. Neither will take action to reign in judicial tyranny. While one or both parties may occasionally make a statement supporting local control of schools, I assure you that neither does.

If you want to change government, you must first change your vote. http://www.cparkansas.org

9:02 PM, June 10, 2005  
Anonymous The Anonymous Coward said...

Mark,

Crap! I forgot that my off-hand comment would feed your Constitutional Party rhetoric. Touché

However, isn't "government schools" even if they are locally controlled unconstitutional? What is the Constitutional Party doing promoting "local government schools?"

Consider this:

All teaching is related to basic assumptions about God and man. Education as a whole, therefore, cannot be separated from religious faith. The law of our Creator assigns the authority and responsibility of educating children to their parents. Education should be free from all government subsidies, including vouchers, tax incentives, and loans.

Education, training, and discipline of children are properly placed in the domain of their parents.

Isn't that what you believe? If not, do you believe that government schools are okay if they are Christian? And if so, which denomination?

9:19 PM, June 10, 2005  
Anonymous The Anonymous Coward said...

Mark,

By the way, the previous two posts were good. Really good.

However, you didn't address one issue. Doesn't the Arkansas Constitution say that the "state" and not "local communities" ---shall ever maintain a general, suitable and efficient system of free public schools?

9:27 PM, June 10, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe there is no FEDERAL role in education, because education is not one of the enumerated powers given to the federal government in the Constitution. Not only is that constitutional, but wise, since a national education bueaucracy would not be sensitive to parents or to its own mistakes.

State education is allowable. It is up to the people of each state to decide what kind of state education system they want. That way you can have 50 experiments going on. If one state finds a better way, the others can copy it.

Because I do believe that bibically, parents are given the primary role, I think that school officials should act as agents of the parents of the community rather than as agents of the state. The closer the accountablity is to the community and family level, the better the school will be (unless the community is rotten, in which case wheelbarrows full of other people's tax money won't fix it anyway.)


Now there are some crazy parents out there, and even some reasonable people can be unreasonable when the subject is their own children. There are a lot of parents who want a safe, orderly, effective classroom, but don't you dare discipline my child! I define that attitude as irrational. A community school can be helpful to let them know that there are community standards and that they need to do their part.

That starts getting scary if done on a state or national level, but at the community level, it is pretty easy to escape a school district if it gets tyrannical. On the other hand, if I have tried five community school districts and have had trouble with them all then maybe I should take a look in the mirror! It is a balance. Local schools, with each having local control, ensures this balance.

9:37 PM, June 10, 2005  
Anonymous Mark Moore (moderator) said...

Thank you for the compliment.

Under the Arkansas Constitution, ultimate authority does rest at the state level. I don't dispute that. If some community is really rotten, with really rotten schools, then the state does have the Constitutional Authority to shut it down. If the Klan takes over a school, the state can shut it down.

The state controls. In Arkansas, that is what the state constitution says. Other states could do it differently.

But there are many ways the state can discharge its responsibility. It can rule with a heavy hand or a light one. It can grant much freedom of action or little. It can distribute decision making authority, or consolidate it. For the longest time, the state ruled with a light hand, granting much freedom of action and distributing authourity. They now want to rule with a heavy hand. I am against that.

The other issue is that the judges are basically ordering another tax increase. That is usurpation. It is not up to them to decide what overall funding levels should be.

9:44 PM, June 10, 2005  
Anonymous Mark Moore (moderator) said...

AC,

I logged in as "anyonoumous" two posts up, but it was lil ole me answering your question as best as I could.

9:47 PM, June 10, 2005  
Anonymous Drew said...

The true sadness is that you don't want dissenting posts, if they have clarity, honesty, and forthrightness.

Beware of speaking out, as Mark has discontinued use of my posts.

Why???

He says because I am gay. Even though I asked that my personal life not be dredged up. Even though I answered with honesty and clarity.

The lie perpetuated is that this is a blog of free thought. Instead it's a blog where a few close-minded people rattle off what they want to hear. Then when they meet someone who challenges them with some sort of educational paradox or debate, they find a "scape goat" issue and flee.

The sadness is Mark Moore, you have become as bad as the legislators who misuse their office, their trust, and their word to achieve the aims they seek.

12:02 AM, June 11, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Asa held a conference call with Republican legislators where he advocated that the party fight for local control. The legislators on the phone agreed.

7:10 AM, June 11, 2005  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

There was one guy running for office in 2004 who kept saying that runaway judges were the number one issue- that legislators and executives had a Constitutional duty to stand up to runaway judges.

For extra points, what was the name of the candidate that had the clarity of mind to make Judicial Tyranny a major issue pre-Terry Schiavo?

5:38 PM, June 11, 2005  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

No takers on my "extra points" offer?

8:02 PM, June 12, 2005  
Anonymous The Anonymous Coward said...

Mark,

"The Candidate" to which you refer is indeed a prophet. But when was the last time a prophet was made king? All of the prophets I know about end up stoned, beheaded or otherwised killed. The best I know a prophet can hope for is to be the right hand man of some benevolent leader.

Does that mean the prophet was wrong? No! But is does mean that it is unwise to vote for the prophet. The wise man votes for the leader who places his trust in the prophet and the prophet's God.

8:41 AM, June 13, 2005  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Well, first of all, I never claimed he was a "propeht" in the bibical sense. I said he had a clarity of mind. A clarity of mind that others vying to rule over us lack. So your analogy is flawed from the start. Why not vote for the leader who has insight? Why not vote for the person who can recognize what the next crisis will be before it gets here?

As a purly academic exercise I will answer your question as you asked it: When was the last time a prophet was made king?

Samuel in the Bible was Prophet Priest and "Judge". That was the closest thing they had to a king. I Samuel Chapter 8 warns the people exactly what would happen if they took a regular king, and stands as a warning against big centralized government to this day. It was the people's idea to have a king over them, not God's. God just wanted them to listen to the prophet, so that they would live righteously and have no need of rulers.

Saul also prophesied, so that it became a proverb among the people, "Is Saul also among the prophets?". And of course King David prophesied in the Psalms. His son Solomon prophesied in the sense that he had divine wisdom from God and authoured much of the book of Proverbs.

Last but not least, Jesus Christ is the true king of the entire human race. One day every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

So what are you getting at? Sure the scheming Herod's of the ages have elbowed their way into thrones throughout history. They have opposed all prophets because prophets remind government rulers that there is Someone bigger than they are. We would be better off if we had prophets for rulers, if we can find any real ones.

6:35 PM, June 13, 2005  
Anonymous The Anonymous Coward said...

Mark,

Since I was speaking in allegory, the whole concept fell apart or you missed the point entirely.

The point is that in modern politics, the person that makes too much noise, even if they are right, is going to ultimately be rejected.

That does not mean that I think that there should not be someone out there making alot of noise. I do. The reality of the situation is that we need more politicians that just go and do the right thing and do it in a Christ-like manner. Some fabulous examples are John Brown and the late Fay Boozman. Politicians need to leave the rhetoric and demagogery to Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Joseph Farrah and Lucas Roebuck.

What we need in this state is a few of those types in our local media, not in elected office.

Ever thought about abandoning this Constitutional Party thing and becoming a journalist? We could certainly use you and Jim Holt running an alternative newspaper to the liberal rags that we currently have foisted upon us.

Sincerely,

The Anonymous Coward

12:44 AM, June 20, 2005  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

O'Reilly has to retire sometime. ;)

11:12 AM, June 20, 2005  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

AC

And I think we need a mixture of both of the types of statesmen that you describe. We need some pushing the envelope, and others sealing it. The ones pushing the envelop have to understand that they are going to take the most hits, but those hits should not come from their low-profile approach colleagues!

It is the guys making the noise drawing the media flak that give the quiet conservatives cover to make incremental advances. If Holt was not absorbing so much abuse and column inches then they would be free to use those column inches to attack the next most conservative guy who refused to back down- until all of them back down.

No, we need fighters and we need builders. Working togehter, not sniping at one another.

11:17 AM, June 20, 2005  
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