News & Media

Weekly Address

« Go Back

Big Day for Small Schools

From time to time, we hold press conferences here at the Capitol. On Wednesday, I took some questions from reporters about a variety of issues, including the bill I had just signed to protect smaller school districts from being forced to consolidate when they are performing academically and are financially sound.

Toward the end of the press conference, a young lady near the back of the room raised her hand. Her name was Rachel Mack. She’s 17 and a senior at Kirby High School in Pike County. Rachel was at the Capitol that day working as a page for Sen. Larry Teague of Nashville. Rachel’s grandfather, Dewayne Mack, served in the House of Representatives several years ago, so it’s clear where she gets her interest in state government.

Anyway, Rachel said she didn’t have a question. Instead, she told the room that she wanted to make a comment.

Thank you, she said, for saving her school.

She understood that this new law would keep the doors open at high-performing small schools like Kirby High. And she knew how much that meant to her and her community.

Rachel teared up a little bit as she spoke. And, I confess, I almost did myself.

I can assure you her comment surprised me. But her remarks were a perfect way to end the press conference. Afterward, we invited her back to the Governor’s Office as a thank you. Rachel is an impressive young lady, and I know her grandfather must be proud.

Sen. Teague says she’s bright and eager to attend college next year. And because of the education she has received at Kirby High School, she’ll be ready. Rachel scored a 28 on the ACT, making her one of six students at Kirby to score 27 or higher. Not bad for a high school of 186 students.

It’s easy to get caught up in the politics of the moment and forget that the world extends beyond the doors of the state Capitol.

Then we’re lucky enough to have a Rachel Mack speak up, cut through all the daily clutter, and prove to us again that the political process can work.  

What we do here matters to people all across Arkansas.

I want to thank Rep. Cozart for his leadership in guiding this bill through the General Assembly. He understands what good, well-run schools mean to a community. Providing them a fair opportunity to stay open is the right thing to do.

As governor of Arkansas, every day is a good day. But this day was definitely one of the best.

©2020 State of Arkansas. All Rights Reserved.