State ‘Reform’ of K-12 Even Impacts Higher Ed

AEA’s Fleming Speaks to Sanders’ Education Bill

The Arkansas Education Association is encouraging its members to contact their state senators and representatives to voice their concerns about the education package of Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Speed is crucial, as the momentum to pass the measure quickly and with few changes is strong.

The Republican calls the multipart, 144-page bill LEARNS for Literacy, Empowerment, Accountability, Readiness, Networking and Safety. It is Senate Bill 294.

While Local 965 is the labor union for the University of Arkansas and affiliated with the AEA, we urge your consideration because this will impact all of us. Indeed, many UA employees are parents. Children coursing through a Sanders K-12 universe will move, ready or not, to studying on our Fayetteville campus. And, proposed legislation directed toward higher ed logically could follow SB294.

Our details how to find the names of your legislators. You of course don’t need to be a member to use our website or contact your legislator, but any UA employee is welcome to join.

The AEA has to date — Sanders gave an outline Feb. 8, 2023, and the legislation was introduced on Monday, Feb. 20 — issued two statements on the measure.

The first, issued Feb. 9, is the news release “Educators: There Are Higher Priorities for Improving Public Schools than Voucher Schemes.” It says the bill “would increase teachers’ salaries in exchange for implementing unpopular and destructive voucher schemes. … Vouchers take scarce funding away from public schools and give it to private schools that are unaccountable to the public.”

Carol Fleming
Carol Fleming

AEA’s other statement, issued by its president, Carol Fleming, was quoted by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in its Feb. 21 article “Early Reaction to Arkansas Education Bill Mixed” (if paywall, here’s an alternate link to the article). Fleming — speaking Tuesday from Little Rock by Zoom to a meeting of the Springdale Education Association, attended by Local 965 Vice President Ben Pollock and At-large Board Member Chris Goering — said the newspaper quoted her fully. That is as follows:

Carol Fleming, president of the Arkansas Education Association school employee union, said Monday night that some of the provisions in the bill had been previously publicized, but without details.
“There are even more questions now that the precise language has been drafted and filed,” Fleming said.
“While there are many new programs to be introduced, there are still many details lacking. Some of those include the recruitment and retention of educators in our state when it appears the salary schedule for teachers has been eliminated. How will we be able to attract the best and brightest to Arkansas with no guarantee of future employment or salary advancement?”
Fleming said she regretted that the voices of the association — established in 1869 as an advocate for student and educator rights — were not included in the crafting of the bill.
She also expressed concerns about plans by state lawmakers to act quickly on the bill, leaving constituents with as few as 36 hours to review its contents and assess the impact before the bill goes to the Senate Education Committee.
“While we support expanded early intervention, literacy and tutoring, we are concerned about individuals being able to access those services — particularly through the availability of transportation,” Fleming said.
“There is no doubt that educator pay should be increased. While there is a focus on increasing the starting pay for certified teachers, there has been an oversight on increasing pay for support staff,” she said, calling that a concern and contrary to earlier plans.
“Other sections of the bill have raised questions, praise and consternation from our members. We hope to be able to discuss these with Governor Sanders, [Education Secretary Jacob Oliva] and the sponsors of the LEARNS Act bill,” she also said.

A range of organizations, from ACLU of Arkansas to NWA Equality as well as the AEA, are planning a “Stand for AR Rights Rally” in Little Rock on the Capitol steps at noon Thursday, Feb. 23. All are invited.

Fayetteville Offers Families Childcare Assistance

The Childcare Assistance Program is available to eligible families who live, work or go to school in Fayetteville, thus including both University of Arkansas students and employees. This program will provide help for low- to moderate-income families with childcare expenses.

Eligible participants may receive up to 12 monthly payments for childcare assistance, which will be made directly from the city to licensed childcare facilities in Fayetteville, according to its announcement.

The city of Fayetteville received a total of $17,911,418 in American Rescue Plan Act funding from the U.S. Department of Treasury to help address community needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This program was approved at the Dec. 6, 2022, Fayetteville City Council meeting with an appropriation of $500,000 from the City’s ARPA funding.

Applicants must meet all the following criteria to be considered for eligibility: 

  • Lives, works or goes to school in Fayetteville
  • Applicant’s child is enrolled in a properly licensed childcare facility located within the city of Fayetteville
  • Meets low- to moderate-income guidelines

The city’s program summary can be helpful. For more information and to request an application, contact Community Resources at or phone 479-575-8260.  

Food Pantry Needs Volunteers before Spring Semester

Logo for the Jane B. Gearhart Full Circle Food Pantry at the University of Arkansas

Local 965 has been a supporter of the Jane B. Gearhart Full Circle Food Pantry on campus. It is closed for winter break and expects to be short-staffed when it opens Monday, Jan. 9, needing volunteers to help staff it through the first week of Spring Semester.

“Full Circle Food Pantry is led by nine student leaders and over 60 volunteers a semester. We are looking for extra hands during the weeks of Jan. 9 and Jan. 17 to help as students transition back to Fayetteville and full-time volunteers begin their semester-long commitment,” according to their announcement.

To help out in the next couple of weeks, sign up for 1- to 2-hour shifts online at the pantry’s GivePulse page. If this is your first time, staff will provide newcomers with a detailed PowerPoint with everything they need to know then do in-person training upon arrival.

Also, to volunteer during the semester, please email or go to Full Circle’s HogSync page for an application.

Full Circle serves the UA community. Surprising numbers of students and employees use its services. Some 1,200 household members a month get food assistance here.

Congratulations, Chancellor Robinson

UA-Fayetteville Education Association / Local 965, the labor union of the University of Arkansas, congratulates Charles F. Robinson, Ph.D., for his Nov. 16, 2022, appointment to chancellor of our campus.

Chancellor Charles F. Robinson, Ph.D., of the University of Arkansas.
Chancellor Charles F. Robinson, Ph.D., of the University of Arkansas. Photo by Russell Cothren

Some members of the Local 965 have known him since he was hired in 1999 as an assistant professor of history in the Fulbright School of Arts & Sciences. His academic achievements include honors for teaching, authoring books on the Black experience, and leading the African and African American Studies Program, helping prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at the university. The last post led to successive administrative roles — vice provost, vice chancellor, provost and executive vice chancellor. The UA System named him interim chancellor starting Aug. 16, 2021, exactly 15 months before UA System trustees elected him unanimously.

Local 965, the sole higher education chapter of the Arkansas Education Association/National Education Association, looks forward to working with Chancellor Robinson to continue UA improvements in meeting staff and faculty needs and rights.

Local 965 Secretary Ben Pollock greets interim University of Arkansas Chancellor Charles F. Robinson Aug. 24 at the 2022 Razorbash on the Fayetteville campus as 965 Vice President Mike Pierce listens.
Local 965 Secretary Ben Pollock greets then-interim University of Arkansas Chancellor Charles F. Robinson Aug. 24 at the 2022 Razorbash on the Fayetteville campus as 965 Vice President Mike Pierce looks on.

Higher Ed Union Endorses 2 Local Candidates

For the first time in several years, the labor union of the University of Arkansas is endorsing candidates in the 2022 general election.

Sloan Scroggin

Sloan Scroggin, a candidate for Ward 3, Position 1, of the Fayetteville City Council, has received the endorsement of UA-Fayetteville Education Association / Local 965. At its October meeting, members agreed he is the best candidate to represent University of Arkansas employees as well as residents of his ward and indeed the city. Scroggin is a Local 965 member.

Sloan, an instructor in Fulbright College’s Department of Mathematical Sciences has served as a council member since 2019. The other candidate for Ward 3 is funeral home owner Scott Berna, whom Local 965 opposes in this race.

Josh Moody

Josh Moody, Democratic nominee for county judge of Washington County, has been endorsed by UA-Fayetteville Education Association / Local 965. Union members at their meeting Thursday, Oct. 20, called Moody the superior candidate to manage government operations as well as work for the best interests of residents throughout the county.

Josh has been a teacher in the Fayetteville School District and Washington County Juvenile Detention Center. The other candidate for county judge is District 5 Justice of the Peace Patrick Deakins, whom Local 965 opposes in this race.

Local 965’s “Area Voting Info for 2022” can help you locate your municipal and legislative wards and districts, polling places and related information.