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Pine Bluff going forward

About 12 years ago I returned to Pine Bluff, my hometown, after spending nearly 40 years living elsewhere. One of my favorite preoccupations from the start has been the writing of letters and guest columns to The Commercial.

The class of ‘69 had its dreams, too

I received a special honor this weekend. I was asked back to give the keynote speech at the El Dorado High School Class of ‘69’s 45th reunion. I taught English IV that year. I was a bit apprehensive at first. Yet, at the end of the speech, I enjoyed a standing ovation and was “over the moon” because of the “Thank-you-for what-you-did-for-me” remarks and the student who asked, “You goin’ with anyone right now?” before slapping Freemon on the shoulder. The following includes portions of that speech …

“School days/school days”– again

So many things have changed since I began elementary school back in 1949. First, we did not go to kindergarten. It didn’t exist. We never used 20-pound backpacks slung over our shoulders to carry everything from books to cell phones to clothing. We carried our sparse needs in book satchels. They were plastic, light-weight, some decorated with pictures of heroes of the day. There was a little pocket in the front for items such as colors and lunch tickets.

The benefits of attack ads

Negative campaign ads appear to be on the rise with the approach of this fall’s congressional elections and the 2016 presidential campaign. Hardly anyone has a good word to say about them. The standard critique — that they demean our democracy, deceive voters and cause disgusted voters to stay home on Election Day — has the ring of truth. But this exaggerates the negative about negative ads while obscuring their benefits.

College cost isn’t big problem for poor students

To judge by this summer’s banner policy proposals, the most important question for higher-education reform right now is giving students easier access to loans. But evidence from Canada suggests those changes won’t address the greater need: Getting more kids from poor families into college, the key to moving up in an increasingly unequal society.

Outdoor track is different animal

LITTLE ROCK — Trick question. What two teams that scored a total of 30 points in the NCAA Indoor meet are among the primary reasons Arkansas' winning track team will have a difficult time doubling up at the outdoor competition in a couple of weeks.