Many school boards in Arkansas are meeting this week, with debates on mask-wearing simmering in several school districts, including major ones in Fayetteville, Springdale and Bentonville.

But there’s more than masks on the agenda. There’s also a plan for how to educate children outside classrooms.


I note this comment from a Central Arkansas school board member in advance of that group’s meeting today:

A word about the new start date of schools: We were completely blindsided by the Governor’s announcement [to delay the start of school by 10 days until the week of Aug. 24]. The official explanation didn’t make sense to me, but a little further investigation reveals that the reason for the delay is to give a commercial online provider more time to prepare. This organization is partnering with the Arkansas Public School Resource Center (if you’re not familiar with APSRC, know that they are strongly pro charter schools). This is not a vendor our district uses, it was not at the request of school districts (any district that wanted to adjust their own calendar later was already free to do so), and it requires us to go back to the starting line on the school calendar. If we were postponing the start of school until we see declines in COVID-19 diagnoses, I would support that 100%. But this has nothing to do with what’s best for our schools, teachers or students – just what’s best for an out-of-state organization. We deserve better.

The reference here is to the $2.4 million the state Education Department gave to the Arkansas Public School Research Center, a nonprofit charter school lobbying group financed by the Walton charter school junta. It, in turn, is making available the Lincoln Learning Systems software for online instruction. It covers K-12 and training on it is underway. Education Secretary Johnny Key mentioned the training to prepare for online instruction as one of the reasons to push back the start of school. Districts may use Lincoln or not. APRSC gets all the money whether districts choose to go their own way or not. (The Little Rock School District, with 5 percent of the state’s students, is not using Lincoln.)


We’ve mentioned Lincoln before. It won’t necessarily make your heart leap up.

Commented another teacher on Facebook:


What an incredible disappointment: literally thousands of extra dollars and hours of work for each individual district in the state to overhaul their school calendars at a moment’s notice, all so you can award a lucrative contract to some out-of-state “education” company, NOT because it’s what’s in the best interests of the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, or families. Mr. Governor, we ALL deserve better…