Arkansas bill would cut school lunch funding over reading scores

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (WVLT/WHNT) -- Legislators all over the country are working on ways to improve their schools. Rep. Alan Clark, of Arkansas, just proposed a bill to get reading scores up in his district.

Clark recently proposed a bill that would cut lunch funding in schools that struggle with reading, and he wants to get support out about his idea, CBS affiliate WHNT reported. The bill would reduce a district's "national school lunch funding" if they keep having issues over a period of time.

"I don't understand, and hopefully that bill won't get passed in Arkansas," Laquita Chalmers, a parent in West Memphis, said.

Chalmers said she has four children, one of whom has trouble reading. She said while she understands Clark wants to help, she doesn't understand how cutting lunch funds would help with literacy.

The National School Lunch program pours into schools is different from the National School Lunch Act program.

It's a stretch to touch that funding at all, parents in the state said.

"This is most definitely not the option," Marilyn Canady, a grandmother to five, said.

Clark said the bill wouldn't apply to schools at a certain level, only ones who see their literacy rates decrease.

Late Wednesday afternoon Clark explained the reasoning behind the proposed bill:

"I am not new to controversy. You don’t get anything important done without confrontation and taking a few knocks. Seeing that Arkansas children can read is worth a few bruises. When we were at 32% reading proficiency I was told my bills were too controversial and we couldn’t do any better than we were. Now we are at 41% so I am thankful I didn’t listen."

The statement continued, "But that still means that almost 60% of our kids are graduating and can’t do the most basic thing we send them to school for well: Read. My bill would require that a school district improve their reading proficiency by .0001 every 2 years. In most businesses I would be laughed at for suggesting such a small goal. But sadly many educators act like I have asked them to storm the beaches at Normandy. Improve .0001 every 2 years. Basically, the standard is just don’t go backwards.

It appears I have much more faith in our schools than many of our educators do."