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New report confirms AACF findings on school discipline

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.   

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Pre-K, not prisons

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.  

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Accounting year ends in surplus

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.

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Report shows Private Option is making a difference

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. 
Some highlights:

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Children entering foster care may be better served at home

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. 

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Juneteenth - Freedom through education

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.

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85 percent of minimum wage earners are over 20

The teenager at your local burger joint is probably making minimum wage, but he or she isn't a typical minimum wage worker. If Arkansas passes the ballot initiative to increase the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour, most of the workers who would benefit are much older. Part-time, high school age employees make up less than 15 percent of the minimum wage workers in Arkansas.

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Thousands of Arkansas kids rely on CTC renewal

The federal Child Tax Credit (CTC) helps many low-income and middle-income working parents make sure that their kids grow up strong, but key improvements to the CTC are set to expire in 2017. The CTC prevented 1.6 million kids nationwide from living in poverty in 2012[i], but critical anti-poverty programs like this might be overlooked in favor of permanent tax cuts that primarily benefit high-income families.

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What makes special revenue special

Special revenue collections are a major source of revenue for the Arkansas budget, totaling $1.8 billion in FY2013. However, they are often left out of the budget spotlight because the ways in which these funds are spent have already been determined.

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