Gov: progress on education reform

(August 4, 2003) — (Little Rock-AP) -- Governor Huckabee and legislators insist that progress is being made in the debate over education reform, but a major rift remains. Huckabee says that school districts with fewer than 1,500 students cannot operate efficiently -- and that the state should consider consolidating high schools in those districts. But rural educators and legislators say they won't accept consolidation based on any number. They argue that eliminating the smallest schools would destroy the way of life in the communities those schools serve. The state is facing a January First deadline imposed by the state Supreme Court to change the way the state funds public schools. The court ruled last year that the state must provide enough more money to offer an adequate education to all students. The fight has made the governor and others question whether many in Arkansas really want any aspect of public education to change. Huckabee says the House, Senate and governor are all going to have to start looking at what the court said instead of what those individuals might want.