July 25th 2014
Every year, the Annie E. Casey Foundation releases the Kids Count Data Book, a comprehensive, 50-state look at child welfare. Arkansas made gains in health coverage and education over the last year, but the child poverty rate went up to 29 percent. Those ups and downs are consistent with national trends, but what would it take for Arkansas to climb all the way up to the top? This document shows the numbers Arkansas would have to reach to meet the U.S. average, and to be number one. For example, 200,000 Arkansas children live in poverty. We'd have to lower that niumber to 89,655 if we wanted to have the lowest child poverty rate in the country.
July 11th 2014
The Office of Education Policy (OEP) at the University of Arkansas shared a new report on school discipline with the State Board of Education this morning. The report's findings are similar to those found by AACF last year. Almost three times as many non-white students (10.2 percent) received out-of-school suspension as did white students (just 3.6 percent). It leads one to ask why non-white students are suspended at such a disproportionate rate.
July 3rd 2014
June closed out this fiscal year with net general revenues of $539 million for the month (-1.4 percent less than last year) according to this morning's report from the Department of Finance and Administration. The year as a whole saw a similar -0.1 dip in revenues compared to 2013, but remained above forecast by $78.7 million (or 1.6 percent). The $5,022.4 million in net general revenue collections was enough for all budgeted categories to be funded. Net general revenue represents the bottom line of funds available for distribution to state agencies and is calculated by taking certain off-the-top deductions from gross general revenue (like education adequacy funding and tax refunds).
July 3rd 2014
They've done it again. The legislature provided funding for prisons in this special session. About $6.3 million was funded this time to open 600 prison beds. That's about $10,500 a bed-far more than we pay per student for K-12 or pre-K education. During the fiscal session in February this year lawmakers provided the Departments of Corrections and Community Corrections with just short of $10 million above their budget.
July 2nd 2014
A new report shows the Private Option is having a positive impact in Arkansas. The report, which was released by the White House, shows that Arkansas, and other states that extended coverage to low-income citizens, has created jobs and increased the number of people getting preventive care, among other benefits.
June 23rd 2014
Too many children enter foster care for a very short period of time. Removal from the home and placement in foster care can be a traumatic experience for a child, and the state is looking at ways to serve these children in their homes. Nearly one third (30 percent) of children who enter Arkansas's foster care system stay for one month or less, according to a new report by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF). That number is six times the national average.
June 19th 2014
Today is Juneteenth, a day to celebrate the promise of freedom to black children and families throughout the United States. Though the freedom we celebrate today was provided by the Emancipation Proclamation more than 150 years ago, we still have a long way to go to achieve racial equality, particularly in the South. In Arkansas, we see dramatic examples of inequality, particularly in education.