The education beat

There have been three pieces of education news this week that bode well for this state and its future.

The state Department of Education reported on Monday that for the first time, more than 60 percent of Arkansas students at each grade level scored at or above proficient on both the mathematics and the literacy portions of the state benchmark exams.

The massive amounts of new funding and the more stringent accountability standards enacted since the Arkansas Supreme Court’s November 2002 ruling in the Lake View case are working. Now, we must fight the good fight each legislative session to keep less-than-enlightened legislators from watering those standards down. Eternal vigilance will be required.

On the heels of that news on the general education front came the news Tuesday that UAMS has been awarded almost $20 million from the National Institutes of Health to be part of a consortium of institutions that attempts to translate basic science discoveries into speedier treatments and cures for patients. The UAMS Center for Clinical and Translational Research will occupy 24,000 square feet of the old UAMS hospital building.

On Thursday, meanwhile, the UALR Board of Visitors voted to build an honors residential complex on campus that will house 500 additional students. An upcoming bond issue of between $28 million and $30 million will fund the residential complex and other projects. It’s a huge step forward for UALR.

Nothing is more important to the future of this state’s largest city than the success of its public schools, the continued growth and success of UALR and the continued growth and success of UAMS. It has been a good week.

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