Democrats find their candidate

By Steve Brawner

© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

If you’re an Arkansas Democrat, the glass-half-empty perspective is that your candidate for governor apparently is going to be Jared Henderson, a 39-year-old political newcomer you’ve probably never heard of. That’s also the glass-half-full perspective.

It’s a glass half empty because you’d prefer someone well-known, well-liked, with money, and with a history of winning statewide races in this new political environment.

But that person’s name is Mike Beebe, and he’s term-limited. And so it’s a glass half full because the party must develop fresh faces, and the 2018 governor’s race is as good a place to start as any. Continue reading Democrats find their candidate

The return of $1 trillion deficits

tax, taxes, debt, deficits, spending, trillionBy Steve Brawner

© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Let’s say you’re changing jobs, leaving one that was relatively secure for one with an uncertain future. You think it’s possible you’ll make more money, but it’s likely you’ll make less. What would you do beforehand?

You probably should carefully determine what your spending patterns are, and then adjust downward until they match your most likely income. You’d look for areas of waste first, followed by luxuries. But then you might also have to cut some of the more important stuff.

Once you’d done that, then, one last time, you’d carefully consider if changing jobs is really the wisest move. And then if it’s still a go, you would do all you could to find additional revenues.

And if you did all that, you would be doing the opposite of what Congress is doing. Continue reading The return of $1 trillion deficits

Thank goodness for Mississippi – and Alabama

Roy MooreArkansans have long said they thanked their Maker for Mississippi. Lately, they may be just as thankful that they don’t have to vote in Alabama.

That’s the state that has produced two of the nation’s best college football teams and its most famous Senate candidate, Roy Moore.

You probably already know about the controversy surrounding Moore, and you probably already have an opinion about it. Many Alabama Republican voters have dismissed the accusations against him, or at least rationalized them away. But some find themselves in a similar situation as last year’s presidential election. They feel they must choose between a Republican they can’t support because of his character qualities, or a Democrat they can’t support because of his politics, or other reasons. Continue reading Thank goodness for Mississippi – and Alabama

She can tell her kids’ stories

Randi House
Conway kindergarten teacher Randi House, the 2018 Teacher of the Year, right, is embraced by Courtney Cochran, a Spanish teacher from Van Buren who is the current Teacher of the Year. In the background is Kathy Powers, an English/language arts teacher at Conway and the 2011 recipient of the award.

The selection of the Arkansas Teacher of the Year is supposed to be a surprise, but Randi House, a kindergarten teacher at Conway’s Theodore Jones Elementary School, was already wiping away tears before her name was called.

House earlier had been named one of four semifinalists, so she knew she was in the running for the award. On Sept. 29, she was standing against the wall during a “school assembly” as the children sat on the floor listening to a reading. That’s when she saw Education Commissioner Johnny Key, other officials, her family, and news reporters file into the room.

House received a $14,000 check from the Walton Family Foundation. In February, she’ll train with other Teachers of the Year in California. And then July 1, she’ll leave the classroom for a year and travel the state promoting the profession, visiting with other teachers and learning new techniques. She’ll also be a nonvoting member of the Arkansas State Board of Education.

A shortage of teachers and future teachers

Hopefully she’ll be able to help reverse a trend that has policymakers concerned – a teacher shortage accompanied by a falling number of students studying to be teachers in Arkansas. Over a five-year period, enrollees in first-time teacher licensure programs dropped by more than half. In 2011-12, 7,758 candidates were enrolled in such programs. In 2015-16, it was 3,737.

Continue reading She can tell her kids’ stories