State Senator starts Twitter debate over UA-Little Rock billboard

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -  Arkansas State Senator Bart Hester took to Twitter on Monday, Feb. 5 to express his disdain for increasing funding for higher education. 

His case staked on scorning UA-Little Rock for renting a billboard to "push for dance majors." 

 

{"url":"https://twitter.com/BartHester/status/960561417542930432","author_name":"Bart Hester","author_url":"https://twitter.com/BartHester","html":"&#lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\"&#gt;&#lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&#gt;Why higher ed does NOT need increase funding. They lease a sign to encourage computer science degrees or math teachers? No they push for dance majors. Lots of hardworking Arkansans subsidizing this! Not ok &#lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/UALR?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&#gt;@UALR&#lt;/a&#gt; &#lt;a href=\"https://t.co/CaRCVQD0qi\"&#gt;pic.twitter.com/CaRCVQD0qi&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/p&#gt;— Bart Hester (@BartHester) &#lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/BartHester/status/960561417542930432?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&#gt;February 5, 2018&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/blockquote&#gt;\n&#lt;script async src=\"https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js\" charset=\"utf-8\"&#gt;&#lt;/script&#gt;\n","width":550,"height":null,"type":"rich","cache_age":"3153600000","provider_name":"Twitter","provider_url":"https://twitter.com","version":"1.0"}

 

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"A degree in dance is a wonderful thing," Hester said on Wednesday. "But with the priorities in our state right now I'd like to see our institutions of higher education pushing what the state's needs are right now -- math teachers, computer science degrees.

While his tweet received several likes, the overwhelming majority of replies to the tweet were against his sentiments. 

 

{"url":"https://twitter.com/jmanandmegzmom/status/960894001611239424","author_name":"KimmieLou","author_url":"https://twitter.com/jmanandmegzmom","html":"&#lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\"&#gt;&#lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&#gt;Also, Mr Hester. My AR son had a 32 ACT, 4.2 HS GPA, but had to go out of state for a high level music major. He is now a G2 at the #2 music program in the US. Arkansas lost him because the arts aren’t a priority.&#lt;/p&#gt;— KimmieLou (@jmanandmegzmom) &#lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/jmanandmegzmom/status/960894001611239424?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&#gt;February 6, 2018&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/blockquote&#gt;\n&#lt;script async src=\"https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js\" charset=\"utf-8\"&#gt;&#lt;/script&#gt;\n","width":550,"height":null,"type":"rich","cache_age":"3153600000","provider_name":"Twitter","provider_url":"https://twitter.com","version":"1.0"}

 

 

{"url":"https://twitter.com/johnwjoyner/status/961287307692306432","author_name":"John Joyner","author_url":"https://twitter.com/johnwjoyner","html":"&#lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\"&#gt;&#lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&#gt;Tell that to all of the wide receivers in the NFL like Lynn Swann who have taken ballet and yoga to improve flexibility, strengthen connective tissue and muscle that normally goes unused, and improve overall performance and physical strength. Very fringe view, you have.&#lt;/p&#gt;— John Joyner (@johnwjoyner) &#lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/johnwjoyner/status/961287307692306432?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&#gt;February 7, 2018&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/blockquote&#gt;\n&#lt;script async src=\"https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js\" charset=\"utf-8\"&#gt;&#lt;/script&#gt;\n","width":550,"height":null,"type":"rich","cache_age":"3153600000","provider_name":"Twitter","provider_url":"https://twitter.com","version":"1.0"}

 

 

The Senator's tweet even caught the eye of former Miss America Savvy Shields, who took his words personally. 

 

 

{"url":"https://twitter.com/SavvyJanine/status/961053621361283073","author_name":"Savvy Janine Shields","author_url":"https://twitter.com/SavvyJanine","html":"&#lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\"&#gt;&#lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&#gt;I disagree with this on so many levels. As an artist and a dancer, I have seen the arts influence, inspire, challenge, and transform society. Art education is crucial in the advancement of Arkansas. &#lt;a href=\"https://t.co/Nns8G4c6kU\"&#gt;https://t.co/Nns8G4c6kU&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/p&#gt;— Savvy Janine Shields (@SavvyJanine) &#lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/SavvyJanine/status/961053621361283073?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&#gt;February 7, 2018&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/blockquote&#gt;\n&#lt;script async src=\"https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js\" charset=\"utf-8\"&#gt;&#lt;/script&#gt;\n","width":550,"height":null,"type":"rich","cache_age":"3153600000","provider_name":"Twitter","provider_url":"https://twitter.com","version":"1.0"}

 

 

Her response prompted one Twitter user to question State Senator Charlie Collins on his stance on art education and funding higher education. 

 

 

{"url":"https://twitter.com/DustinSeaton/status/961316796698685440","author_name":"Dustin Seaton","author_url":"https://twitter.com/DustinSeaton","html":"&#lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\"&#gt;&#lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&#gt;&#lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/CollinsARK?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&#gt;@CollinsARK&#lt;/a&#gt; where do you stand on the importance of art education & higher ed funding in AR? Do you side with your constituent (former Miss America) or your GOP brethren? &#lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/hashtag/arpx?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&#gt;#arpx&#lt;/a&#gt; &#lt;a href=\"https://t.co/yrFWbJNyvk\"&#gt;https://t.co/yrFWbJNyvk&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/p&#gt;— Dustin Seaton (@DustinSeaton) &#lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/DustinSeaton/status/961316796698685440?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&#gt;February 7, 2018&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/blockquote&#gt;\n&#lt;script async src=\"https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js\" charset=\"utf-8\"&#gt;&#lt;/script&#gt;\n","width":550,"height":null,"type":"rich","cache_age":"3153600000","provider_name":"Twitter","provider_url":"https://twitter.com","version":"1.0"}

 

 

The Senator responded, saying he valued investments that "enable our students to have a good career." 

 

 

 

{"url":"https://twitter.com/CollinsARK/status/961320029022294019","author_name":"Charlie Collins","author_url":"https://twitter.com/CollinsARK","html":"&#lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\"&#gt;&#lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&#gt;When spending tax payer $, which comes from hardworking Arkansans, I believe &#lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/hashtag/arpx?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&#gt;#arpx&#lt;/a&#gt; should skew spending toward investments that will enable our students to have a good career. More career opportunity in STEM, but arts important too & some talented enough to earn a living in arts. &#lt;a href=\"https://t.co/NQTUFzhSKT\"&#gt;https://t.co/NQTUFzhSKT&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/p&#gt;— Charlie Collins (@CollinsARK) &#lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/CollinsARK/status/961320029022294019?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&#gt;February 7, 2018&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/blockquote&#gt;\n&#lt;script async src=\"https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js\" charset=\"utf-8\"&#gt;&#lt;/script&#gt;\n","width":550,"height":null,"type":"rich","cache_age":"3153600000","provider_name":"Twitter","provider_url":"https://twitter.com","version":"1.0"}

 

Paul Leopoulos is director of the THEA Foundation, an organization that advocates for the arts and partners with UA Little Rock. He expressed his disappointment in Hester’s tweet.

“The arts are and should be a mainstay in our whole community and our society,” Leopoulos said. “And when we're not there we miss culture. We miss so much in our lives.”

The billboard is a part of UA-Little Rock's new marketing campaign, "Unlimited Pathways," which is designed to introduce prospective students to the variety of majors available, according to Judy Williams, Associate Vice Chancellor of Communications and Marketing. 

 

"The billboard on I-30 features a BFA Dance Performance major...Our university offers the only dance program in Arkansas," she said. "This is only one ad in the campaign." 

The campaign has also highlighted students majoring in biology, chemistry, computer science, economics,  American Sign Language and more. 

According to Williams, the recruitment campaign was developed in alignment with the UA-Little Rock mission statement: 

The mission of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock is to develop the intellect of students; to discover and disseminate knowledge; to serve and strengthen society by enhancing awareness in scientific, technical, and cultural arenas; and to promote humane sensitivities and understanding of interdependence. 

Arkansas's fiscal session begins Monday, February 12.