Beckman’s New Book on Arkansas Education & Arch Ford

As commissioner of the Arkansas Department of Education from 1953 to 1978, Arch Ford served under five governors and ushered Arkansas education into the modern era. “His vision was to expand educational opportunities because he believed education was the foundation for improving people’s lives,” writes author Cindy Burnett Beckman in Man of Vision: Arkansas Education and the Legacy of Arch Ford, just released from Butler Center Books.

Throughout his career, Arch Ford campaigned for increased educational funding, better-qualified teachers, and higher teachers’ salaries. Ford helped lead the state in peacefully integrating its schools and established twenty-three vocational-technical schools across the state.

During Ford’s tenure, the Arkansas Children’s Colony was established to provide educational services to those with developmental disabilities and the Arkansas Educational Television Network, now celebrating its 50th anniversary, was set up to provide instructional programming across the state.

In the early 1960s, Arkansas developed one of the best economics education programs in the country. The program, now called Economics Arkansas, provided training in economics education to thousands of elementary and secondary teachers in the state. Arkansas’s teachers later swept national awards for teaching excellence in the area of economics, and other states modeled their programs after the one in Arkansas.

Under Ford’s direction, the state also expanded educational opportunities to include kindergarten, special education, community colleges, and adult education. His leadership left Arkansas with a strong educational system that has continued to advance.

The book is available at River Market Books & Gifts on the Main Library campus of the Central Arkansas Library System in Little Rock and other bookstores, from online retailers, and through the University of Arkansas Press (via University of Chicago Press) at (800) 621-2736 and

Butler Center Books is the publishing division of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at CALS. To see a complete list of Butler Center Books, visit

Cindy Burnett Beckman was a classroom teacher in Conway for thirty years and holds an MA in history from the University of Central Arkansas. In 2001, Beckman was named the national Junior Achievement Economics Teacher of the Year. She writes a local history column called A Look Back for the Log Cabin Democrat newspaper and is a member of the Faulkner County Historical Society. Her columns are reprinted on the Historical Society’s website. She is the author of A Taste of Arkansas: Restaurants of Conway, Faulkner, Perry, Pope and Yell Counties (1993) and By the Forks of the Cadron: Living in a Place Called Pleasant Valley (1999).

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