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In response to Max Brantley's June 12 column, "Drastic measures for Little Rock Schools":
I couldn't agree more. Something has to change. The LRSD has run off the rails and cannot right itself all the while the children suffer. Those who can afford to leave the district do, particularly after elementary school. Those who cannot afford to are stuck, and it's not fair. It's not fair to any of those children. If they start in the LRSD, they should be able to and want to graduate from the LRSD.
Just Someone's Mom
Has the "new" superintendent really been unable "to form a consensus on the school board" or has he rather lost the consensus he had a year ago when he began? Might investigating beyond skin color yield more insight? Have grievances and contract disputes been without merit? Have district actions been fair to those affected? Have makeover plans been based on evidence of their educational successes or instead on hopes, revealed knowledge, or urgency for just doing something whether it does any good or not? Have proposals actually addressed what students need to succeed and make good decisions for themselves and their community?
Even if the state takes over, there's no easy solution. Max suggests a new school for SWLR, but then talks of trying to "work some failing schools off the state list." So some neighborhoods are to be "rewarded" with a new school, and then some neighborhoods are to be "punished" for failing to come off the "list." And you wonder why the black school board members are concerned? Are you saying that the local school board's voices should be silenced for expressing differing concerns so that a state appointed board could take over? Does anyone think this will promote community support? One example sited for progress under the state for Pulaski County was a reduction in the disciplinary rate for black students. Often what happens is that teachers are instructed to "handle" the problems on their own and reduce the number of referrals that are reported, so the number of incidents are not reduced, just the number of reports on them.
Also note the suggestion for changing district lines. All of the county south of the river would be one district with most of the tax base. But the cities of North Little Rock, Jacksonville, Sherwood and Maumelle could have their own separate districts; they would also have a lower tax base. This sounds like the plan for Shelby County where the suburban cities like Germantown around Memphis have been allowed to withdraw from the county school system to set up separate districts. This makes those people in those neighborhoods happy, but what effect will it have on neighborhoods like Franklin to have a reduced tax base?
Is it any wonder that the black members of the Little Rock School Board are reluctant to trust the promises sounding like "forty acres and a mule"?
In response to the June 16 Arkansas Blog post, "Domestic violence in Berryville; searching for help for battered women":
Researching why victims return to their abusers is not blaming the victim. It's an important piece of a layered approach to reducing domestic violence. Police, courts, community programs, and research and education for both the perpetrator and the victim are necessary to make any significant dent in the problem. The roots of abuse are diverse and the ability to identify the warning signs is imperfect so no one "silver bullet" will eliminate it. Use all the tools we have at our disposal. Research is one of them.
Law enforcement blaming women for being murdered is insulting, dangerous and misinformed. Women return to abusers for a variety of reasons, including threats again them/their children if they leave, lack of alternatives (housing, income) etc. Domestic violence is complex and varies on a case-by-case basis. Much research shows an increase in violence/lethality when women assert themselves/leave their abusers. I guess even when women are able to leave, it's still their fault they get killed?
Fact is, our culture has a big problem with violence against women. Law enforcement, medical, mental health and school professionals all need training on how to recognize the signs and refer for help. Boys should be raised to respect women as equals, and men who abuse should be held fully accountable. Check out thehotline.org for more info.
I hate to be categorized as agreeing with those who blame the victim, but I think at least some of the problem is a woman going back, at least without some consistent long-term evidence that he — usually "he" — has changed. I also suspect such evidence is vanishingly rare.
I suppose it's a self-perpetuating cycle, with the children of both sexes growing up to accept violence.
I'm also concerned that both people involved in a violent domestic argument are sometimes arrested. It's happened down this way and, I suspect, in many other places. While it's not always clear exactly what happened, I tend to support anyone who is attacked defending themselves. I know I would, probably with the closest heavy object at hand.
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