Huckabee Issues Call for Supporters

July 17, 2003 - Posted at: 2:43 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Governor Huckabee is again putting out the call for help from people who support his plan to improve public schools in Arkansas.

The governor wants to raise the minimum Arkansas high school course offerings and have school districts meet minimum efficiency goals or face consolidation.

On Wednesday, Senator Jim Argue of Little Rock, the sponsor of Huckabee's school reform plan during the regular legislative session, said consolidation for the sake of raising high school curriculum no longer appears a valid argument.

Huckabee says he wants the business community and people with children in large school districts to help promote his plan. Otherwise, Huckabee says the state will have higher tax increases to improve schools. Huckabee says the system needs to be remade so the state can afford the changes.

Huckabee released the following statement Thursday on his efforts to convince the public, legislators, and educators to support his plan to overhaul the
public schools:

``I've been promoting a broad buffet of academics for Arkansas students at an affordable price. It appears the recommendation from the consultants is that we instead give them a plate of meat loaf for the price of a ribeye.

``Pouring hundreds of millions of new tax dollars into the current mediocre system doesn't make sense to me. But if the consultants advise it, the legislators accept it, the superintendents demand it, the attorney general is willing to defend it and the business community and other Arkansas taxpayers are willing to pay for it, it will probably happen.

``But I won't support it. Other than a handful of newspaper columnists, the prevailing plaintiffs' attorneys in the Lake View case and a small group of legislators, I feel I'm pretty much a voice crying in the wilderness.

``But since our state's business leaders and other taxpayers have said and done very little, they need to get ready to pay 40 percent to 50 percent more to pretty much keep in place the educational system they already have.

``I still believe real education reform is more important than a king's ransom in new taxes.''

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