Friday, June 10, 2005

Sen. Dave Bisbee No Conservative

By Debbie Pelley (click "comments" below for article).


Blogger Debbie Pelley said...

Senator Dave Bisbee(R) Loses Vote for Senate Pro Tempore

Missed Opportunity or Victory for Conservatives?

ADG Paul Greenberg used the headline, "Missed opportunity - GOP abandons its own,"1 in his article about Dave Bisbee(R) losing the vote for Senate pro tempore. The truth is the GOP didn't abandon its own; Senator Dave Bisbee abandoned the Republicans.

Senator Argue appointed Bisbee as an assistant Senate president pro tempore, saying "Bisbee is a longtime ally for him." Liberal journalists Brummett, Barnes, and Blagg all wrote articles praising Bisbee. Brummet listed him in the top five best legislators.2 Since when is Democratic leader Senator Argue an ally of true Republicans, and why would the liberal journalists praise Bisbee if he isn't doing the Democrats' bidding?

Bisbee walked in lock step with Democratic Senators Argue, Broadway, and Malone in the last sessions. This alliance flaunted so much power that the other senators rebelled and defeated Bisbee.

American Family Association's (AFA) website lists 10 bills on family issues from the 2005 session. Democrat Jack Critcher, who won the vote for Senate Pro Temp, agreed with AFA on 9 votes; Bisbee agreed on 6 votes. Two other Democratic Senators, Glover and Taylor, agreed on 9 votes as well. Senator Holt agreed 100% - just one vote better than three other Democratic Senators. All Republicans senators but one agreed with AFA more often than did Senator Bisbee. See this link for a list of these bills and how all legislators voted on these issues. Or go to and from home page and scroll down and choose the first new item.

Senator Bisbee was the primary sponsor of SB 42 (Act 59) which increased funding for education by $441 million.3 resulting in an increase in the sales tax, the largest ever Arkansas state tax increase.4 Even though advocates of consolidation were proclaiming how much consolidation would save, "Bisbee acknowledged during the meeting that consolidation wouldn't save money under SB42's per-student funding." 5

Evidently consolidation for savings was not Bisbee's objective in SB 42 .

Bisbee was the sole sponsor of Act 98 that gave supplemental money to the AR Department of Education (ADE) in the amount of $107 million to add up to 32 new employees and other things for the 2003-05 biennium.6 I don't think any paper in the state reported on this bill. Since they were talking about saving so much money with consolidation by getting rid of superintendents, they didn't want the public to know they were increasing the government employees as rapidly as they were supposedly decreasing administrators. Most of the appropriations were for positions, etc. for more government control of the local schools. Government control is very expensive, requiring many more positions, data bases, and other equipment. The media and the legislators never discussed that aspect of accountability or consolidation.

Before sponsoring this bill, Bisbee was sent the superintendent survey where 93% of them said, "Any increase in the number of state department employees would not be a good investment of the state's money for quality education in Arkansas." Fifty percent (154) of the superintendents responded to this survey.7 For copy of survey see:

Senator Bisbee has supported and been a main player in increasing government control in all the educational reforms, reforms that 94% of teachers and 95% of superintendents in Arkansas surveys said " have been a top down approach with educational bureaucrats and/or legislators making most or all of the significant decisions as opposed to teacher input." The superintendent survey in 2003 had a 50% response (that was 154 supts.) and hundreds of teachers were surveyed in schools of different sizes across Arkansas in 2000 and 2003.8

At one time Bisbee was noted for saying outcome based education OBE as outlined in the Clintons' Act 236 was dead in the water and supposedly opposed it in 1997 after it acquired such a bad reputation. However, since then Bisbee has helped implement every aspect of OBE . They have just implemented it under different names so people don't recognize it.

The last and present national expert for the Arkansas Department of Education for staff development, Richard Stiggins, admits our present educational standards driven reforms were originally called outcomes based education, saying . β€œ[T] the concept of mastery learning has evolved through its various incarnations over the past decades, from behavioral objectives to minimum competencies to outcomes-based education and finally to standards-driven schools.” 9 Senate Bill 42 (Act 59) of 2003 sponsored by Bisbee and Broadway say professional development has to be "standards-based." 10

Senator Bisbee and Broadway sponsored SB42 (Act 59) in 2003, adding five more days of staff development (making it 10 days rather than 5) at a price of $22 million more annually for staff development where they train teachers in such nonsense as the following:11 "Grading can be detrimental to student willingness to learn and should be replaced with other ways to report progress. In today's political climate, tests are inadequate and misleading as measures of achievement. Assessment tasks should be redesigned-indeed, are being redesigned." The long tradition of grading students has a detrimental effect on many students." (Taken from a teacher's math book used to train teachers in Arkansas) Staff development also concentrates on multiculturalism and diversity (including acceptance of homosexuality.)

Bisbee and Broadway also included the requirement for a study of knowledge and skills-based teacher pay system in SB42 (Act 59).12 In simple terms that means that teachers will get pay increases based on how well they incorporate the things they learn in staff development (like the above statement on grades) rather than on experience or other criteria. This is all spelled out in a booklet prepared by the adequacy study in 2003. In fact part of the title of SB42 is "TO ESTABLISH A KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS-BASED PAY SYSTEM FOR TEACHERS."

Ninety percent of the teachers in the survey mentioned above said, "The State Department of Education is placing too much emphasis on test scores and coercing teachers to teach to the test," and 85% said "staff development is of little value in improving student achievement and is an ineffective use of teachers' time." These surveys can be found on the educational page of .13

Bisbee also helped bring so called experts here for staff development like Willard Daggett and Douglas Reeves who propagate such nonsense as the above. Willard Daggett's writings and research (he makes up his own research) are so inflammatory that one large school in Arkansas refused to let him speak on their campus.14

In 1998 when I discussed with Senator Bisbee my concerns my concerns about education and teacher staff development, he told me that they were in the process of hiring good professional people from NSCI in Arizona to do staff development for teachers. Daggett and Reeves were the so called good professional people that came through NSCI - hired in such a way through services from NSCI that the ADE did not have to inform anyone how much they were paid. We tried over and over to get figures on what they were paid and were given the run around. Daggett usually received 8,000 to 10,000 a day for a seminar, his organization told me personally, and he was paid 7,000 by one co-op in Arkansas for a one day seminar.

To be fair, I don't think Senator Bisbee knew what these experts believed or how bad the staff development is, but he was told and was sent material over and over , including the teacher survey. He should have listened. Perhaps he did not want to hear because this would put him out of favor with the powerful senators and the media. (He could listen better if he would do e-mail. He is one of a small minority of legislators that doesn't use e-mail - to the frustration of the many teachers who wanted to contact him about staff development.)

This session the teachers weighed in so heavily on staff development that finally even the Director of the Department of Education admitted that he was hearing the same negative things about staff development that the legislators were hearing. In this last session, Bisbee admitted all he had heard about staff development was negative. Since he had received information many times on it before from teachers and copies of the teacher surveys - why did he sponsor a bill for 22 million more dollars annually to be spent on it and to require a study to base teachers' pay raises on how well they implement the staff development?

Bisbee supported and worked with Senator Broadway on all the facilities bills which would have cost billions if other legislators had not stopped it. The facilities bills took the last vestige of control from the local schools. Now the state basically owns all the school buildings in Arkansas and will make all major decisions about the buildings.

Bisbee was a staunch supporter of massive consolidation. Consolidation increases government control. Rural conservative legislators had several opportunities to get a bill out of the Senate Education Committee if Bisbee had only cast his vote in the right direction. One bill in particular by Senator Paul Miller was around for sometime before it was trashed. Bisbee's vote in the Senate Education Committee would have allowed it to go to the Senate floor where most people thought it would pass. The media called Miller's bill the "slowdown" or soft consolidation bill. " Bisbee called Miller's bill the 'anticonsolidation bill. It's protecting the status quo. It puts a lot of stuff in law that protects schools.' Particularly upsetting to Bisbee was a section in Miller's bill that allows districts to exist as long as they keep at least the state average on a standardized test." Bisbee further said Miller's bill did not have enough accountability requirements [government accountability] in it.15

In 2005 Senator Bisbee even gutted a proposal to pump an extra $4.7 million to isolated schools and caused the sponsor to withdraw it.16 The $4.7 million would help some of these isolated districts keep their school open and prevent students from having to ride the bus 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours a day to another school. Bisbee could sponsor an educational funding bill for 439 million, supplement the State Department of Education for $107 million, and add $22 million annually for more teacher staff development; but he could not allow $4.7 million to keep impoverished children, even pre-schoolers, from long the bus a half day. (Bisbee had been informed about the long bus rides.)

Senator Bisbee did do an excellent job, a very superb job of opposing HB 1525 for scholarships and instate tuition for illegal aliens in the Senate Ed Committee and on the floor of the Senate - except in the last vote on HB1525 17 on the Senate Floor he didn't vote - I presume out of courtesy to his Democratic friends. However, he balanced that noble action by sponsoring a resolution SCR9 which included these false whereases. WHEREAS, immigrants can stabilize shrinking populations, facilitate economic growth, revitalize neighborhoods, replenish work forces, and increase property values; and WHEREAS, immigration can be the key to a state's, city's, or town's growth and prosperity.18 (Illegal immigrants cost each household in California over $1,100 per year just for their education, incarceration, and medical benefits.19 Nationally, 33% of incarceration at the state, local, and federal prisons combined are illegal aliens.)20

The resolution Bisbee sponsored then encourages congress and the president to create an expedited naturalization process for undocumented minors and to exempt the minors from prosecution when the minors come forward for naturalization. Evidently Bisbee, being from the Northwest, felt a little heat and removed his name as sponsor of the above resolution, and the Senate Education Committee sponsored it, exemplifying once more just how much of an ally Bisbee is to Senator Argue, Chair of the Committee.

Senator Bisbee's record is certainly not one that I would expect or want from a Republican. Bisbee speaks often of the need to hold schools, teachers, and administrators accountable. We are proud of the Republican senators and conservative Democrats for holding Republican Senator Bisbee accountable by denying him the Senate pro tempore postition.

Debbie Pelley & Iris Stevens

1. "Missed opportunity - GOP abandons its own," ADE Editorial, Tuesday, May 31, 2005

2, (a) "Anatomy of Senate Factions by John Brummett," Tuesday, Mar 15, 2005

(b)"Best and Worst of the Legislators," by John Brummett Tuesday, Apr 19, 2005

(c)"Bisbee Keeps Perspective," by Steve Barnes The Morning News, April 16, 05

(d) "Bisbee Deserves Leadership Position by Brenda Blagg," Morning News April 19

3. . ADG article by Blomeley, Jan 16, 2004

4. ADG article by Rowett Feb 6, 04.

5. ADG article by Blomeley Jan 16, 04.)

6. See Act 98 at this link:

7. See Supt. Survey at

8. See Teachers Survey:

9. β€œThe Unfulfilled Promise of Classroom Assessment,” by Richard Stiggins, p. 10

10. See Act 59 ( at this link:

11. See Act 59 at this link:

12. See Act 59 at this link:

13. See Teacher Surveys:

14. For a long article on staff development and a summary of the experts brought to Arkansas to oversee it, see or go to and from home page under new article access this article: "ADE Sabotages Legislative Efforts -ADE Doesn't Like Grades or Tests that Compare to Other States" For articles on Daggett and Reeves, see

15. ADG article by Blomeley April 10, 03.

16. Arkansas News Bureau article by David Robinson, 3-17-05.)

17. Copy of HB1525

18. Copy of Bisbee Resolution SCR9 at this link -Bisbee was sponsor until it was amended.

19. Illegals Cost California over $1100 per yearper household:

19. Former Justice Department official Kris Kobach transcript (see 2nd paragraph on this link:

8:14 PM, June 10, 2005  
Anonymous Frankman said...

Bisbee is conservative, but he is just a very far left-leaning person who has come back towards the center somewhat. Good to see that he got out of the slum-lord business up there in NWA.

10:11 AM, June 12, 2005  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Your sentence describes Bisbee well. The guy is all over the place. More than half the time, it seems he is on all sides of an issue. He is all things to all men- or at least that what he tries to be. I am not sure that it can really be done. He is a far better politician that even the Governor. Is that a compliment or an insult? A little of both I guess.

8:05 PM, June 12, 2005  
Anonymous Eli Harvey said...

Your comments about Sen. Dave Bisbee are most interesting.

It might be worth remembering that Dave Bisbee was elected over Charles Fuqua in the Republican primary when Gov. Huckabee came out in an unprecedented way in favor of Bisbee. He actually put out a letter in the primary favoring Bisbee.

Conservatives might do well to remember the old adage, "All that glitters is not gold."

Thanks for your strong, conservative stand! God bless you!

10:35 PM, June 15, 2005  
Blogger Mr. Toast said...

Bisbee's 'yea' vote to override the Governor's veto of SB1174 was the final vote that allowed the bill to squeak through the senate. SB1174 would have allowed club-hoppers to tote their booze all around town in so-called entertainment districts, among other things. I found it ironic seeing how Bisbee's entire district is in dry Benton county. The governor even vetoed the legislation. I wonder how Bisbee's constituency would feel about the quality of his 'representation' on this issue. Benton county's other Senator, Sen. Hendren, voted against the bill and against overriding the governor's veto both times it was brought up for vote. Bisbee, however, voted for the bill. He wouldn't initially vote to override the governor's veto, but when he realized the veto couldn't be overridden without his support, he jumped in to cast his vote the second time around. Classic politician.

Thankfully, since the session ended before the house could vote, the bill hasn't yet passed. But a special session could change that.

9:06 AM, June 18, 2005  
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