Favorite

Child's play 

Leaders of the Little Rock School District aren’t setting a good example for the children.

The world of Little Rock School District politics was upset by the last school election. Instead of a majority white board governing a majority black district, the board majority is now black, too.

That majority is not so beholden to the clubby special business interests (notably Democrat-Gazette publisher Walter Hussman and the Walton Foundation) who thought they’d seized control of the district as a laboratory for their ideas on education “reform.”

The clubby group doesn’t like the new school board math. The new black majority is a “gang,” in the view of the Democrat-Gazette editorial page, a racially charged word never applied to the old white majority.

When Karen DeJarnette, a skilled statistician, decided that Superintendent Roy Brooks and the district’s attorney were preventing honest reports on the district’s effort to monitor minority achievement, she blew the whistle to the board. Brooks responded by trying to fire her. This would be like a bank president firing an auditor who discovered non-performing loans hidden from bank regulators.

The board majority reinstated DeJarnette, but Brooks resisted. He tried to delay her return to work, perhaps to get a functioning replacement in place so she then could be shunted aside. When the board majority rapped Brooks’ knuckles for this he said, according to the Democrat-Gazette, “I’m not going to let a bunch of spiteful adults stop me from doing what I set out to do. … Am I the only one thinking about the kids? Well, thank God I’m here because I’m here for the kids.”

Brooks parrots the emerging talking point of the old boys club — Roy Brooks cares about kids. Anybody who thinks differently — as defined by Hussman, Walton and Co. — is a self-interested union hack or an ignorant stooge of lawyer John Walker. School board member Larry Berkley, I learned last week, is busy organizing a claque of West Little Rock parents to turn out for school board meetings in support of Brooks. He thinks Board president Katherine Mitchell has been “spiteful” to Brooks. Brooks knows spite.

EVERYONE is for kids. The Hussmans and Waltons want what’s best for kids, I’m sure, even if I think there’s reason to question their faith-based belief in merit pay, its method of implementation and the absence of the appearance of an independent evaluation (the Waltons help finance the UA academics who’ll evaluate the program they championed and financed).

I’m hopeful coming hearings by federal Judge Bill Wilson will provide an independent review of the facts in the DeJarnette case.

But no hearing is necessary to rule Roy Brooks’ outburst out of order. His petulant remark about “spiteful adults” was insubordinate, as was his effort to sidestep the school board’s order to put DeJarnette back to work. The superintendent works for the school board. The new majority showed admirable restraint in talking to Brooks privately about the matter at a special meeting last week.

Brooks would have done himself, and the district, more than a little good by facing the press after the meeting instead of sneaking out a back door. He could have apologized for his sharp words and assured everyone that he and the school board had an equal interest in children and he regretted any suggestion to the contrary. Can Roy Brooks bring himself to say such a thing? His future may depend on it.

Favorite

Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • The freeway department talks fairness. No, not about making truckers pay fair share

    Noel Oman of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported on plans underway at the Arkansas freeway department to raise the license fee for electric cars to what a gas-powered car pays in fuel taxes, maybe $180 a year. Fair? They say yes; I'm not so sure.
    • Jan 16, 2017
  • Goodson draws home staters for appeal in class action case

    John Goodson, the Texarkana lawyer, has a Feb. 7 date with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to argue that he shouldn't have been disciplined by federal District Judge P.K. Holmes for switching a class action case against an insurance company out of federal court into a state court that speedily approved a settlement.
    • Jan 16, 2017
  • Free beer tomorrow: Trump's health plan

    Donald Trump has proclaimed that he has a health care plan coming that will cover everyone — yes, UNIVERSAL COVERAGE — and have lower deductible payments. More coverage for less, he suggests, with plenty of pain for Big Pharma in tough negotiating.
    • Jan 16, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Supremely discredited

    Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood and her allies continue to discredit the state's highest court.
    • Jul 30, 2015
  • Hutchinson pulls Faubus move

    I don't know what if anything might arise or be planned in the future relative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order to end Medicaid reimbursement for medical services (not abortion) provided by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas.
    • Aug 20, 2015
  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015

Most Shared

  • UPDATE: Retired Arkansas Arts Center director Townsend Wolfe dies at 81

    Townsend Durant Wolfe, III, retired director and chief curator of the Arkansas Arts Center, has died at 81.
  • Subpoenas identify names of federal interest in kickback probe

    The Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District today provided me with the subpoena it received from federal investigators in a probe that led to former Republican Rep. Micah Neal's guilty plea to taking kickbacks from money he guided to a nonprofit agency and a private college in Springdale, apparently Ecclesia College.
  • Human Services says it's eliminated Medicaid application backlog

    The state Human Services Department has informed Gov. Asa Hutchinson that it has all but eliminated a backlog in applications for Medicaid coverage.
  • Praising Asa

    Let us now praise the governor for a starkly moderate record, at least in comparison with other red-state executives.
  • Glass houses

    Having gotten a deep security briefing and probably a confidential glimpse of our own vast cyberspying operation, Donald Trump is no longer pretty sure that the Kremlin didn't hack Democratic computers or employ other tactics to help his election.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Praising Asa

    Let us now praise the governor for a starkly moderate record, at least in comparison with other red-state executives.
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • More on LRSD tax

    When the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and a Walton Foundation-paid lobbyist, long devoted critics of the Little Rock School District, lead the messaging for a quarter-billion dollars in new tax debt for the district, it is cause for caution.
    • Jan 5, 2017
  • Little Rock school tax? No deal.

    The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce is busy back-room politicking and — again — supporters of democratic public schools should be wary.
    • Dec 22, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Indian Rock House at Fairfield Bay

Indian Rock House at Fairfield Bay

Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived

Event Calendar

« »

January

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Hillbillies

    • One last thought - oh, Nanc, do try not to refer to your children, adorable…

    • on January 14, 2017
  • Re: Hillbillies

    • Dearest Nanc - My, my - showing a good bit of hatred yourself, Look into…

    • on January 14, 2017
  • Re: Hillbillies

    • I'm with you all the way, Nanc.

    • on January 14, 2017
 

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