Arkansas residents can help raise money to buy computers for the state’s public school students by stepping up to the plate: the license plate.
Gov. Mike Huckabee on Jan. 23 unveiled a new state license plate designed by Rachel Graves, a sixth-grader at Huttig Elementary School in Union County. The plate features math, reading, and English books with a smiling bookworm on top. The design earned its creator the first computer given out by the program, which provides incentives for student achievement.
The plates’ $25 margin over regular plate prices will establish a trust fund for the computers and other incentives. Students who have satisfactory conduct reports, have 95 percent or greater attendance in second through sixth grades, and score “proficient” on math and literacy sixth-grade benchmark tests will receive the computers during their sixth-grade year.
A spokeswoman from the Committed to Education Foundation said she expects to sell 20,000 plates each year and give away about 3,500 technology incentives in 2006, the first year students will become eligible for the program.
It wasn’t immediately known how many computers the state expects to give away, but Huckabee said the plates and the computers they will finance are a good investment.
“The computer is going to be as much a part of a child’s education as books were when I was in fifth or sixth grade,” Huckabee said. “And while book prices keep going up, computers, are going down.”
Sen. John Riggs IV, D-Little Rock, announced his introduction of a bill authorizing the plates. Huckabee said he thought it would sail through both houses of the Legislature and easily become law.
The plate idea came out of the Leadership Greater Little Rock Class XV, and the program will be administered through the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.