Governor: keeping small schools is short-sighted

(December 11, 2003) — (Little Rock-AP) -- Governor Huckabee says putting jobs at small schools over a better education for students in those schools is short-sighted. Opponents of his plan to merge smaller school district say rural areas will lose jobs and other economic benefits through consolidation. But Huckabee says that argument ignores greater economic benefits those areas should eventually get from improved education. He says consolidation would make it easier -- and more economical -- to provide quality education. Taking a break from the special session on education reform to address the Arkansas Economic Development Commission yesterday, Huckabee acknowledged the tough reception he's received from parties opposed to his consolidation plan. While praising the work of economic development officials in recent years, Huckabee stressed that Arkansas must create a skilled work force, as traditional manufacturing jobs keep heading overseas for cheaper labor.