Lawmaker's Tweet Over Dance Major Sparks Higher Education Debate

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A billboard, a lawmaker, a dance major, and twitter are causing debate over higher education funding. 

UA-Little Rock dance majors are in their afternoon choreography class. Lelia Rosenkrans chose the school because it offers options like this. 

"I just think the arts expand your mind in a different way then the sciences do," Rosenkrans said. 

She is a dance major and a chemistry minor. She says a recent tweet by State Senator Bart Hester about a billboard has caught the eye of many in her department. 

Hester took a photo of UA-Little Rock's billboard along Interstate 30 that promoted the dance program and tweeted, "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 @UALR."  

"To say we don't need to spend money there or anything like that, it's highly disrespectful," theater major Taylor Green said.

"I feel like when a state has needs, a state school should be focused on those needs," St. Sen. Bart Hester said. 

Hester says his tweet wasn't a knock on dance majors. He says it's more about what the state of Arkansas lacks.

"All I said was that the state has current priority needs, the needs of more math teachers, the needs of computer science degrees, those are current real needs in the state that are priorities over a dance major," St. Sen. Hester said. 

It's gained attention from many, including former Miss. America and Arkansas native Savvy Shields who is an art major herself. 

Rosenkrans believes whether it be STEM or choreography, it's just as important. 

"I also wish people saw the importance of arts. Not only from the community, but for people in general,"  Rosenkrans said. 

UA-Little Rock says it's the only university that offers a dance performance program. The school also says the billboard is part of a larger ad campaign. The one along Interstate 30 is the only one that highlights the dance program. 

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