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Martin Bureau

Thursday, August 24, 2023 | KDAQ morning news briefs:

Arkansas curriculum controversy

Just 48 hours before the first day of school, the Arkansas Department of Education announced that advanced placement African American studies would not count towards graduation. The department said it's reviewing the course for possible indoctrination. In a recent report by National Public Radio (NPR) from Josie Lenora with KUAT-TV in Arkansas, Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders went on Fox News to explain her administration's decision to de-prioritize AP African American studies. “We cannot perpetuate a lie to our students and push this propaganda leftist agenda teaching our kids to hate America and hate one another.”
Huckabee Sanders is not pointing to anything specific in the curriculum. State education leaders notified teachers that they deleted the course code for AP African American Studies. That means students cannot receive graduation credit for taking the course. The governor's alma mater, Little Rock Central High School, is known for its robust AP offerings. That's where senior Jack Baker took the pilot course last school year. He says it's a straightforward history class which encourages students to think about different ideas. “We were offered alternative perspectives, and we were not told that this was somehow, like, immediately correct. It was more discussion based and, like, viewpoint oriented.”
Lenora reported that last year 60 schools across the country offered the pilot course to students. This year, the class is expanding to hundreds more. Six Arkansas schools that plan to offer the pilot course this year said they will still do so, but only as a local elective and not as an official AP class.

Constable salaries & Texas Senate Bill 22.

There’s an effort underway to raise the minimum pay of some rural area constables in Texas who often play an outsized role in law enforcement despite receiving very low pay. In Trinity County, just Southwest of Lufkin, Texas, there’s a proposal to enact Senate bill 22, once it becomes law September 1. It provides grant money to establish a minimum salary of 45-thousand dollars a year, for under-funded positions in sheriff, constable and prosecutors’ offices in smaller Texas communities, where tight budgets make it very difficult to pay some essential personnel a living wage.
In a recent report by KTRE-TV, Trinity County 2nd Precinct Constable Mark Cole said his duties are far more expansive than many people may realize. “As a constable, we are mandated to be present during the court, the J.P. (Justice of the Peace) court and we also serve papers and also have additional jobs that we do. We patrol our community. We investigate crime. We work very well with the sheriff’s department here in the county.” Right now, they make only half the mandatory minimum salary the grant would guarantee, which would be $45,000 a year.
There’s just one catch: the county would still be responsible for 75-percent of the salary. Texas Senate Bill 22 only pays for 25-percent. That’s led to debate on whether the program is feasible in Trinity County at this time. Sheriff Woody Wallace says the constables deserve a raise for all they do. “Law enforcement needs to be paid fair like everybody else. Constables, we, we utilize the constables in this county very well. They work; they often are finding theirselves [sic] doing investigative work for me. they go out and do investigative work, transporting inmates because we’re not always fully staffed.” The only catch to Texas Senate Bill 22: The government agency is still responsible 75-percent of the cost, which has led to debate.

The price of keeping Cool (Tips)

Our extreme heat wave is not just having an effect on us physically, but also with the bottom line: our pocketbooks. Just trying to stay cool can be a costly proposition, with the Shreveport area experiencing triple-digit temperatures for the 11th straight day. And it has been much the same throughout the Red River Radio listening area. We have already experienced 26 days of those triple-digit conditions this summer, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Brad Bryant. He tells us that trend is expected to continue into September.
Meanwhile, AEP-SWEPCO, which provides electricity to more than 474,000 customers in its three-state service area of East Texas, Western Arkansas and northwest Louisiana [better known as the ArkLaTex] has some cost saving tips for customers to consider. SWEPCO spokesman Doug Warner told us a few, simple and easy tips for saving money. “Before you go to work, just leave the curtains closed or the blinds closed. Throughout the day there’s no reason for all that hot sun to be beaming into your home. That will help a little bit. When you are home and you’re using the ceiling fan think about this counter-clockwise shoves that cool air down. and when the room clears out and no one’s in there, all the kids go to school turn the fans off.”
Warner also suggests waiting until the evening to use your heavy duty appliances like your washer, dryer and dishwasher. SWEPCO also suggests customers can unplug appliances when they’re not using them. And of course, turn up your thermostat a few degrees before you leave the house. Warner also talked about the benefits of signing up for their average monthly payment plan. “Where it just continues like a running average over the last 12 months and you pay that. Now it may go up a little or go down a little. But, you won’t see those big spikes when we go from 80 degree months to all of a sudden 100 degrees. And everyone saw that big spike.” Warner also wanted to point out they will not disconnect anyone’s power during weather extremes like this, in which heat watches and warnings have become a daily occurrence.

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, and a graduate of the University of Washington, Jeff began his on-air broadcasting career 33 years ago in the Black Hills of South Dakota as a general assignment reporter.