State Rep. Kim Hendren from Gravette has a reputation around the state capitol as someone who is willing to say what he thinks – whatever he thinks – for better or worse.
He certainly has a wealth of experience to do so. He has been in and out of the state legislature since first being elected to the state Senate in 1978. He is the brother-in-law to the current governor, and he has started a plethora of successful businesses.
He is also the type of lawmaker that sees a problem and thinks that passing a state law is the way to fix it. In reality, the state is not always the best solution to our problems. Take for example two of Hendren’s latest proposals – HB1044 and HB1226.
Hendren’s HB 1044 states – “Beginning in the 2015-2016 school year, every public elementary school shall teach cursive writing as a component of English language arts by the end of grade three.” When presenting the bill on the House floor, Hendren said his motivation was that his 8th grade granddaughter could not write or read cursive writing. So his solution was to introduce a bill requiring all public schools to do so by the 3rd grade.
Rep. Charlie Collins from Fayetteville spoke against the bill on the House floor.
“I am extremely hesitant to add mandates to the school districts, especially when I spend time in those school districts and watch the teachers already burdened with so many requirements,” said Collins. “Even though I respect those who can read and write well in cursive writing and its other potential benefits, I prefer to leave those decisions locally.”
I agree with Collins, but unfortunately the majority of the House did not passing Hendren’s bill with 66 votes. This one is now in the hands of the Senate.
The other idea from Hendren is HB1226, which would require public schools to teach how to make correct change. This one is again born from Hendren’s experiences. Apparently, Hendren went to Sonic and the car hop had trouble giving him change back for his $20 after he bought a couple of drinks. So the solution is creating a state law.
This bill currently sits in the House Education Committee, where hopefully it will stay.
I understand and support putting quality standards in place for our schools, but I don’t think we need a new requirement every time we see some sort of random skill that – in a legislator’s view – was not properly taught. If you want your child to learn to count change, get out some Monopoly money and teach them. If you don’t think your local high school is doing this, go meet with your local math teacher or high school principal or after that perhaps your local school board.
But the state legislature is simply a bad place to micromanage our public schools.