Tom Cotton, a Republican candidate for Arkansas’ 4th Congressional District, said Thursday he has changed his view about Internet use in the classroom, and added that the Arkansas Democratic Party’s use of a 1998 article he wrote “just shows that Barack Obama’s attack dogs recognize the growing strength of our campaign.”
Arkansas Democratic Party Spokesman Candace Martin issued a statement Thursday saying Arkansas Republicans are “at odds” over using technology in the classroom. Martin pointed to a recent school tour by Lt. Gov. Mark Darr (R) in which he praised the classroom use of technology and Internet access.
In 1998, when Cotton was 21, he penned an essay for The Harvard Crimson that focused on how Congress allowed the Federal Communications Commission to enact a tax without notifying citizens. Cotton argued in the essay that Congress, not the FCC, is the only body allowed to increase taxes.
“Liberals instead use the courts and the bureaucracy to accomplish that which they cannot accomplish at the ballot box,” Cotton noted in the 1998 article.
However, Cotton’s essay also suggested the Internet would not be useful in the classroom: “Despite blather about the ‘information superhighway’ in popular culture, connecting classrooms and libraries to the Internet is a horrible idea. The Internet at best brings convenience to everyday life. It allows us to check the weather, the news, the stock market and so on very quickly. None of this information helps educate children. But the Internet does not just fail to educate children; it even obstructs their education. The information on it lacks veritable scholastic quality because it is not filtered through the ordinary editing and publishing process of books and magazines. Moreover, the Internet has too many temptations — ESPNet and Playboy come to mind — to distract students bored with their assignments and looking for some fun.”
Martin said the 1998 essay shows Cotton as an extremist.
“We’re glad to see Mark Darr crediting the accomplishments of Arkansas Democrats – which is a far cry from Tom Cotton’s radical views,” Martin said in the statement. “When it comes to educating our children, extremism has no place in the classroom, but Cotton’s comments show that he is not interested in doing what is best for Arkansas children.”
Cotton told The City Wire that times and his view on classroom use of the Internet has changed.
“After 13 years of free-market innovation, the Internet is now a critical tool for education and daily life, unlike in its infancy. This desperate tactic is like attacking Bobby Petrino for not having started a player as a freshman when he becomes All-SEC as a senior,” Cotton noted in an e-mail. “Mostly, it just shows that Barack Obama’s attack dogs recognize the growing strength of our campaign. You only take incoming fire when you’re close to the target …”
Michael Tilley with our content partner, The City Wire, is the author of this report. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.