Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Comments from Bentonville on Little Rock's new school chief

Posted By on Wed, Apr 20, 2016 at 7:33 AM

click to enlarge COMING TO LR: Michael Poore.
  • COMING TO LR: Michael Poore.
The Hutchinson administration's decision to sack Baker Kurrus as the high-performing leader of the Little Rock School District in favor of Michael Poore of Bentonville has produced a wide protest in Little Rock.

It has also produced some cheering in Bentonville from people who've had disagreements with Poore. It is fair to note that being school superintendent always brings conflict. It's a rare school leader with unanimous support.

Poore's critics sent me word last night how happy they were to learn of his departure from Bentonville. Two years ago, the then-Bentonville School Board President Wendi Cheatham wanted to fire Poore.  (Link corrected.) She's no longer on the Board. One of Poore's strongest defenders was Board member Rebecca Powers, herself a controversial figure because of leadership of the religious forces that opposed a district policy to protect LGBT employees and her alleged cyberbullying of a student. Poore ultimately sided with Powers. He said the district needed no policy because existing policies were sufficient.  He also promised to provide a training session on how federal guidelines on sex discrimination covered gender identity, but that training has not been provided as yet.

Poore had disagreements with Cheatham, too, on his insistence on using a district-hired auditor rather than submit to the more strenuous review of state legislative audit. Bentonville is not the only district that has chosen this path.

He's drawn fire for school rezoning and an initial resistance to a plan for a new high school, but defenders would say the explosive growth of the district inevitably meant some displacement for parents and that the district has managed growth well.

He's knocked, too, for proposing advertising on school buses, as he'd done in Colorado. And critics point, too, to the  district's defense of prayer at a school-related event because it wasn't an official district event. 

Critics have much more to say, but it's mostly water under the bridge now. He'll soon enough be known by his deeds. The largest looming question is whether he'll ever follow in Baker Kurrus' footsteps with a call for analysis of the segregative effect of charter schools and their lack of proven academic performance as they drain students from the Little Rock School District. Charters haven't been much of an issue in Bentonville, where the minority population is scant and there's little pressure from parents to find havens from concentrated populations of poor children.

Poore has never worked in a district with a significant percentage of black children. He moves to one that is about 70 percent black and had a majority black board until the state took it over. But one of his admirers on the school board vows you'll never see a leader who knows staff better and who gets out in the community more tirelessly than Poore.

Another reader pointed me to a "white paper" on Poore's website for a view on his education thinking. I had a hard time parsing it.

PS: Rumors floated yesterday that some deal might be in the works to keep Baker Kurrus working in some capacity under Poore. I believe this was floated by Northwest Arkansas political players (Walton organization) in hopes of saving face for the Hutchinson administration after enormous backlash to its decision to boot a wildly popular, effective leader. It is not going to happen. You'd willingly serve as a shill for somebody who tossed you aside like an old dirty shirt, wouldn't you?

Tags: , , , , , ,


Speaking of...

Comments (14)

Showing 1-14 of 14

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-14 of 14

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Cotton seeks friendlies for town hall

    Is Tom Cotton working to pack his town hall Wednesday in Springdale with fans. So says one source.
    • Feb 21, 2017
  • Campus gun bill clears committee

    The so-called compromise amendment that will allow anyone 25 or older with a training certificate carry a concealed weapon on public college campuses was approved in a Senate committee this afternoon.
    • Feb 21, 2017
  • DiPippa to be interim dean at UALR Law School

    UALR Chancellor Andrew Rogerson told staff today that law professor John DiPippa would serve as interim dean of the Bowen School of Law while a search is made for a permanent dean. The appointment takes effect in July. The search should begin in the fall.
    • Feb 21, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • In defense of Planned Parenthood and abortion rights

    An op-ed in today's New York Time by Katha Pollitt says what I've been struggling to say about the reaction to the attack on women's reproductive rights launched by means of the undercover videos made by anti-abortion activists.
    • Aug 5, 2015
  • The inspiring Hillary Clinton

    Hillary Clinton's campaign for president illustrates again the double standard applied to women. Some writers get it. They even find the supposedly unlikable Clinton inspiring.
    • Oct 16, 2016
  • State Police issues statement on Jason Rapert 'threats'

    The State Police have issued a minor clarification in what appears to be an effort to soothe an enraged Sen. Jason Rapert, exposed here as overly excited about both a Conway parking lot question from a constituent as well as some inflammatory Internet rhetoric that he's interpreted as a dire threat on his life. State cops took his reports seriously, they say. But in the end, they found nothing actionable.
    • Sep 15, 2015

Most Shared

Visit Arkansas

"Locally Labeled" passport expands to accommodate booming brew scene

"Locally Labeled" passport expands to accommodate booming brew scene

As if great beer weren't reward enough, you can earn prizes for sampling local craft beverages

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation