Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Senator Holt Press Release - Halter's Attack on Holt's support of rural schools

Released Today, August 22, 06

Lt. Governor Candidate Bill Halter sent out a press release accusing Senator Holt of flip- flopping on his stands on consolidation, saying he used to support consolidation and now opposes it. Senator Holt's response, "This accusation reminds me of the ad by my former primary opponent in which he accused me of being a tax and spend liberal. He pulled the ad because of public opinion and newspaper articles criticizing him for the outrageous statement. Had Halter been residing in Arkansas rather than California the last 20 years or so, he would have known how ridiculous his accusation is," Holt contended.

Senator Holt voted against every bill that is now or will be closing schools: Act 60 closing schools with enrollment of under 350, Act 1467, the Omnibus bill that mentions consolidation 36 times, and against HB1289 to close isolated districts. These laws have led to the closing of about 50 school campuses. He actively supported HB1014, which failed to pass, this last special session to give small schools more flexibility to meet curriculum standards. That bill was designed to save good, small schools like Paron.

Several rural school supporters came to Senator Holt's defense after Halter's attack on Senator Holt's support of rural schools.

Jimmy Cunningham, the superintendent of the Danville district and the past president of the Arkansas Rural Education Association, said, "Senator Jim Holt was one of our strongest supporters of our rural schools and one of the strongest opponents of consolidation. From the time the battle for consolidation started and he took his stand for us, he never wavered and we never had to lobby him because we knew where he stood. Everyone who didn't know already, learned that if Senator Holt tells you something, you can count on him to keep his word.

(For rest of press release click TUESDAY below and scroll down, or if sent straight here, just scroll down)


Blogger Debbie Pelley said...

Lavina Grandon, who heads up "Save Our Schools" and who organized the entire state to fight consolidation had this to say, "Senator Holt never cast a vote that was against rural schools. His record has been absolutely consistent. He was always accessible and supportive of us who were working for rural and community schools. We could always count on him to keep his word concerning any legislation we asked him to support even when he faced extreme pressure from other legislators.

Debbie Pelley, who has worked as hard as anyone in the state opposing consolidation and long bus rides, being called in newspaper articles, an advocate for rural schools, had this to say, "Senator Holt was the only senator that actually voted against consolidating isolated school districts, HB1289. Had that bill not passed, Arkansas would not even be embroiled in this ugly situation with Paron School which has become a real blot on Arkansas public schools.

"Holt did originally think administrative consolidation would be good when he thought administrative consolidation meant what the words said - administrative consolidation and not school closings. Fortunately he learned the difference before he had to do any voting. His voting record for rural schools is perfect.

"Now other legislators and Democrats are learning what Holt learned much quicker - that there is a war on rural schools, and administrative consolidation was just a ploy to close down schools."

"It is interesting, Holt said, " that the papers nor Halter have addressed the problem, outlined in my last press release, with the Arkansas Department of Education imposing an unnecessary rule (not written into any law) that 38 courses be TAUGHT rather than OFFERED even when schools can't find or recruit any students to take the courses. Superintendents across the state are saying that rule will cause numerous school closings. It was that rule that led to the controversial HB 1014 during the last special session that sailed through the house and was killed in the Senate Education committee whose chair is Senator Argue. Why is that TAUGHT and OFFERED rule by the ADE being ignored in the media?"

"Halter's press release included good rhetoric on distance learning, but will he support the bill sponsored in last legislative session, HB1014, to give small schools more flexibility to meet curriculum standards, the bill that Beebe opposed and Senate Argue helped kill in the Senate Committee? Holt asks. "Had that bill passed, Arkansas would not now be dealing with the problems at Paron. Because of the Paron situation, that bill and similar bills will be certainly introduced in future sessions."

"And will Halter cut through the rhetoric and say if he will support a bill that would prevent closing isolated districts like the policy was before the 2005 session?" Holt asked.

7:03 PM, August 22, 2006  

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