David Monteith / KUAR News

A day after teachers in the Little Rock School District went on strike, members of the State Board of Education voted to change the makeup of a committee designed to aid with employment issues.

The board voted 5-4 Friday to expand a personnel policy committee for the district from eight members to just under 50, with one representative from each school in the district serving on the committee. Elections for the committee were already underway when board members voted to expand the number of seats.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., could likely run for a second term without having to face a Democratic challenger, but officials with the state Democratic Party disagree.

Cotton, who has served in the Senate since 2015, originally faced Democratic challenger Josh Mahony of Fayetteville. Mahony, who ran unsuccessfully against Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Womack in 2018, announced he was dropping out of the Senate race Tuesday. His announcement came roughly two hours after the campaign filing period ended.

Little Rock School District students, educators and parents picketing outside Central High during a teacher strike.
Chris Banks

Little Rock School District teachers took part in a one-day strike Thursday and were joined on the picket lines by parents and students. Picketers are objecting to the district no longer recognizing the teacher’s union and the district still being under state control.

Outside of Central High School, there were chants of "What do we want? Local control! When do we want it? Now!"

Chris Dorer, the school’s History department chair, said that the district being under state control equates to systematic racism and oppression.

Little rock school district
Chris Banks / KUAR News

Little Rock teachers are striking for the first time in more than three decades over the state's control of the local school system and a panel's decision to strip their union's collective bargaining rights.

Members of the Little Rock Education Association are picketing across the 23,000-school district on Thursday in what's being billed as a one-day strike to protest Arkansas' takeover of the local system. Arkansas has run the school district since 2015, when it was taken over because of low scores at several schools.

Teresa Knapp Gordon (center), president of the Little Rock Education Association, telling reporters Monday that the union is calling for a one-day strike on Thursday.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The return of the Little Rock School District to local control has been a controversial topic since the state took over the district almost five years ago. State officials say the outcome of an Oct. 10 meeting of the State Board of Education signals a return to local control of the district, but others disagree. 

What we know, after the marathon eight-hour meeting and roughly 350 pages of transcribed minutes, is that it's complicated.

Kelly Connelly / KUAR News

An Arkansas state legislator announced a bid Tuesday to unseat a Republican congressman in 2020 as the filing period for next year's election came to a close.

Democratic state Sen. Joyce Elliott is the only Democrat who filed to run against Republican Rep. French Hill, who was first elected to the 2nd Congressional District in 2014.

Elliott said she believes the district, which includes Little Rock, could be competitive for Democrats.

Michael Bloomberg
Kelly Connelly / KUAR News

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has not officially announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for United States president, but on Tuesday he visited the Arkansas state Capitol to file paperwork to have his name appear on the ballot.

"It doesn’t mean we’re going to run, but we do have to make sure we’re on the ballot if we do run," Bloomberg said. Talking with reporters, Bloomberg said he will support the Democratic nominee regardless of whether he decides to run.

Teresa Knapp Gordon (center), president of the Little Rock Education Association, telling reporters Monday that the union is calling for a one-day strike on Thursday.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Arkansas's State Board of Education will be discussing a memorandum of understanding regarding control of the Little Rock School District on Thursday. On that same day, members of the Little Rock Education Association, and the coalition #OneLRSD have planned a one-day strike.

Teresa Knapp Gordon, president of the teachers' union, said state officials have ignored previous requests that control of the district be in the hands of a locally elected school board.

Jim Hendren Hendren Plastics
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A federal judge has ruled a drug recovery program and a company owned by an Arkansas state lawmaker violated labor laws by requiring participants to work full-time without getting paid. It’s considered an alternative to jail time, but U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks said the two entities manipulated the labor market for their own benefit.

Arkasnas Business reporter Mark Friedman wrote about that in this week's issue:

Rick Crawford
Talk Business & Politics

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, said he is “voluntarily” giving up his seat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) to Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in preparation for next week’s impeachment hearings. Crawford characterized the substitution as a “temporary resignation.”

The House is preparing for open hearings from witnesses as part of the impeachment inquiry formally opened last week in a partisan vote of 232-196. House Democrats have put forward a plan and guidelines for the process of the Congressional inquiry.

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