University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

From the Capitol: AR Legislative Update 3/11/11

In AR Legislature on March 11, 2011 at 12:30 pm

March 7th was the final day for Arkansas legislators to file a bill in the current legislative session. By the end of the day, reports from the capitol were saying that more than 500 bills had been filed by the deadline (for a grand total of 2,361 bills filed by the 2011 Arkansas General Assembly). We checked the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) Bill Tracker Website and found that there are currently 105 education related bills (or resolutions) still being considered for this session (55 in the House, and 50 in the Senate). Needless to say, our elected officials have their work cut out for them down at the capitol.

Two interesting bills were referred out of committee this week. First, Senator Bruce Holland’s (R-Greenwood) bill to establish a school superintendent mentoring program (SB344) which charges the ADE to develop and sponsor a mentoring program required for first year superintendents. The program will cover curriculum and instruction, ethics, facilities, human resources, leadership, school funding, and technology. If passed by the legislature, the training topics in this new mentoring program would be folded into existing training that is currently required of for first-year superintendents.

Second, referred out of the House Education Committee this week, was a bill filed by Rep. Danny Altes (R-Forth Smith) to allow school districts to adopt curriculum standards for an academic study of the Bible (HB1032). To quell concerns that it would give teachers a means to use the classroom as a pulpit, Rep. Altes emphasized that the curriculum would discourage teachers of this class to do just that. The bill does not address other religious books such as the Quran or the Torah.  According to the bill, this elective course will focus on the Bible’s influence on literature, music, and politics.

With all the legislation before the education committees, things could get interesting rather quickly at the capitol in the coming days. What would you like our legislators to address? Do you think that we need a mentoring program for first year superintendents? What about in year two and/or three…or beyond? Do you think that teachers of the Bible Elective course can/will avoid using the class as a pulpit?

Let us know what you think and leave us a comment below.

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