Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Who's dysfunctional on the Little Rock School Board?

Posted By on Tue, Jan 6, 2015 at 9:22 AM

Little Rock School Board member Jim Ross has sent me a copy of the letter sent by six of the seven members of the board to the state Board of Education Committee deciding what to do about the district, which has six schools judged in academic distress.

Board member Leslie Fisken did not participate in the letter. You may recall that she wrote her own letter to the committee, chaired by Vicki Saviers of Little Rock, and declined to join an otherwise unified School Board's response. You may also recall that Fisken says the School Board is dysfunctional.

Does dysfunction mean Leslie Fisken isn't getting her way? This is the Tommy Robinson school of leadership. The rest of the world is out of step with ME.

There's a sizeable cadre of people who want the state to take over the School District, oust the School Board and leave Suggs in charge. I'm open to arguments that state control might be a solution worth considering for Little Rock, if for no other reason than to end its role as a convenient whipping boy for the Billionaire Boys Club and their "education reform" charter school lobby (which includes two members of the state board's academic distress committee). But an end of local governance that keeps  the current superintendent makes sense only to those who want a puppet leader.

The letter from the Little Rock Six follows. It pledges cooperation and notes the relative newness of both
Superintendent Dexter Suggs and several board members. It doesn't sound the least bit dysfunctional:



Memorandum


To: Academic Distress Committee, ADE Board
From: Little Rock School Board
Date: January 2, 2015
Re: Statement of Commitment and Intent

We, the members of the Board of Directors of the Little Rock School District, are appreciative of the opportunity provided by the Academic Distress Committee to state the district efforts to improve services to meet the needs of students in our declared academic distress schools and for the LRSD Board to express its commitment to do fulfill our governing role in support of these efforts.

In the Board’s view, there is no priority of greater importance than making significant progress to improve the education of students in our academic distress schools. To this end, the Board has been fully supportive of the administration’s plan. A copy of that plan has been provided to you by separate cover. It is the Board’s expectation that implementation of the plan will result in measureable outcomes in student achievement. Our commitment to this plan is further demonstrated in the following ways:

• Monthly Board work sessions concerning plans to improve the culture, leadership, curriculum and instruction.
• Monthly reports and discussion in Board meetings regarding plan implementation results in the academic distress schools.
• Public expressions of support and expectation for improved performance and accountability regarding progress for academic distress schools at every level from classroom to the Board.
• Approved the planning process to develop a reconfiguration plan for one of the academic distress schools (Hall High School). This plan will be presented to the Board for consideration for approval and possible implementation for 2016-17.

For the district to make sustainable progress for students in our academic distress schools, we realize that we must meet each of the major governance challenges facing the district at this time. For each challenge, we have a process in place to address the challenge:

• Academic distress schools: Plan for improving achievement as presented by the administration.
• Financial concerns with anticipated loss of desegregation funds: Initiated and approved Budget Efficiency Advisory Committee with the expectation of recommendations to the Board beginning in the spring of 2015.
• Facilities concerns: A district-wide facilities plan has been completed and the Board is in process of developing a priority list of facilities improvements and a corresponding funding plan.
• Governance concerns: Awareness of both the history and the perception of a lack of stability and effective collaboration among Board members and between the Board and Superintendent. A work session is being planned for early 2015 to focus on improving teamwork at the Board and Board-Superintendent relationship levels.

The conditions leading to the six LRSD schools being declared in academic distress developed, and in some cases, persisted over a period of many years. We believe it is reasonable to note that our present governance team—Board members and Superintendent—is fairly new. Our Superintendent is in his second year. Five of our seven Board members are in their first term, one is in a second term and only one is in a third term. We, however, understand the need for accountability at all levels. Our present governance team would like the opportunity to meet these challenges and show responsible progress in all challenge areas in the coming year.

Clearly, our students and community have waited long enough for significant progress to be made in these schools. We are committed to working with each other and the administration to make the changes needed to meet our obligations to the students in these schools. We believe the needed improvements are possible if we work together at all levels, and we are determined to fulfill our part in this effort.

Thank you for your consideration and we are open to discussion, as requested.


Favorite

Comments (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Blue Hog says Fort Smith police tried to hack into his computer

    Matt Campbell, author of the Blue Hog Report and a Little Rock lawyer, says in a new filing in a long-running lawsuit by a Fort Smith police officer against the department that a computer file sent by Fort Smith officer contained software intended to hack into his computer and make his hard drive unsafe.
    • Apr 14, 2015
  • Charter school accountability: Non-existent in Arkansas

    A state audit finds charter school spending violated state law, but the state Education Department says it has no responsibility for ensuring proper management of charter schools. Say what?
    • Mar 5, 2016
  • Little Rock School District sued over refusal to release employee's records

    Matt Campbell, a Little Rock lawyer, said he filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit today against the Little Rock School District for its failure to provide personnel records of Teresa Gordon, a media specialist at Jefferson Elementary.
    • Apr 14, 2015

People who saved…

Most Shared

  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Lessons from Standing Rock

    A Fayetteville resident joins the 'water protectors' allied against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • Child welfare too often about 'punishing parents,' DCFS consultant tells legislators

    Reforms promised by the Division of Children and Family Services are "absolutely necessary," the president of DCFS's independent consultant told a legislative committee this morning. But they still may not be enough to control the state's alarming growth in foster care cases.
  • Donald Trump taps Tom Price for HHS Secretary; Medicaid and Medicare cuts could be next

    The selection of Tom Price as HHS secretary could signal that the Trump administration will dismantle the current healthcare safety net, both Medicaid and Medicare.
  • Fake economics

    Fake news is a new phenomenon in the world of politics and policy, but hokey economic scholarship has been around as long as Form 1040 and is about as reliable as the news hoaxes that enlivened the presidential campaign.

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation