Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism
If the ADE expects to continue to approve new charters, LRSD needs to plan for this. Without a comprehensive longer-range plan, or at least some idea of the future plans that the ADE has for the school districts it controls, it is nearly impossible for LRSD to formulate a sensible plan.
Much of the western part of the city of Little Rock is not located in the LRSD. Metroplan has provided me with very helpful data that shows estimated population trends. Metroplan estimates that the population within LRSD grew by an estimated .7 percent per year (.007) over the period from 2010 to 2015. Growth of charter enrollment will reduce the size of LRSD, and will dramatically change the demographics of LRSD. .... As a simple matter of mathematics, if LISA and eStem are successful with their announced plans, LRSD has to plan for a much smaller enrollment.
If the charter expansions of eStem and LISA are approved, and those schools enroll 75% of their new students from LRSD in the same percentages as they currently do, LRSD’s white population goes down by 22%. If all the students come from LRSD, the white population drops by almost 30%. Poverty and special education population percentages rise with every expansion of LISA and eStem, because they do not enroll these students at the same levels as LRSD.
In summary, if eStem and LISA continue to enroll students with their current demographics, LRSD becomes more segregated by race and income, and has a higher percentage of students with special
It will be much more difficult to exit from academic distress in this environment. As more of the higher achieving students are lost, a greater number of non-proficient students must be raised to proficiency in order to meet the exit threshold percentage.
The chart attached as Exhibit B shows the current populations of special education students enrolled at LRSD, LISA and eStem. The chart speaks for itself, but it simply must be noted that LRSD has almost twice the percentage of students with special needs as does LISA or eStem. The comparative levels of disability of all of these students needs further study.
It is hard to argue against competition and choice. However, the competition needs to be fair, and people need to make informed choices based on permissible discriminators. In addition, the competition is not being held under similar rules. Charters simply do not enroll poor kids or disabled kids at a rate which approaches the rates in most schools in LRSD.
Public charters in Little Rock that enroll low income students struggle. One of the most poignant aspects of my planning analysis is that the closure of a failing charter will further compound LRSD’s challenge, because these students in failing charters will probably come back to LRSD. In the meantime, if some charters continue to under-enroll students of greatest need, the challenge faced by LRSD becomes monumental. The obligation to provide a free and adequate education for all students ultimately falls on the State of Arkansas, so the issues in question are tremendously important.
If God exists, I hope God can forgive us. All of us.
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