Charter school questions | Arkansas Blog

Friday, November 7, 2008

Charter school questions

Posted By on Fri, Nov 7, 2008 at 11:09 AM

On the jump: LR School Board member Robert M. Daugherty circulates to other district officials some questions about various school matters and particularly the push for more charter schools in Little Rock.

On this subject: I had questions for Arkansas Board of Education member Naccaman Williams about his critical vote this week in the 5-3 approval of yet another LR charter school . (Daugherty notes that 14 of the state's 24-school limit are in Pulaski County [a reader notes that he overstates the number in Pulaski]. I don't think this concentration -- more than half even by the number provided by a reader -- is an accident. The public school destroyers go where the students and money are.) Williams works for the Walton Family Foundation. It spends millions in support of charter schools. It wants to make the LR School District a laboratory for its theories. Thus, Williams is not an unbiased evaluator when it comes to proposals for charter schools in Little Rock, or charter schools anywhere, for that matter. He's paid to advocate them. You may not like it, but the record shows clearly that calling something a charter school doesn't make it a better school.

It is troublesome -- outrageous really -- to have a paid charter school advocate acting on applications for access to public money to run charter schools. Williams declined to answer my question about whether the LR Prep Academy approved this week will receive Walton support as, for example, the e-Stem school does. He declined, in fact, to answer any questions from me.

Like charter schools or not (and the latest in LR at least targets underachieving students, unlike several of the others approved previously), conflicts of interest by public officials should not be tolerated. But Walton money seems to obliterate that bedrock principle.

Have you no shame, Dr. Williams?


I’d like to add to the report agenda a comprehensive report on the methods and techniques being used to enhance student discipline from K-12(i.e. write ups, sanctions, Saturday school, suspensions, referrals to other agencies, teacher training, principal responsibilities, etc…).

     Also for discussion and before Woodruff is considered for closure as an elementary school, where are they in terms of meeting AYP? What are the costs for sustaining the school? And what happens if their numbers increase?

     And finally, one for Mr. Heller, what are our options for combating the already approved charter schools that seem to be saturating Pulaski County? Can we get a court order from Judge Wilson enjoining them from proceeding until the Eight Circuit has ruled on our desegregation case? Also, has anyone talked to Representative Will Bonds regarding the newly approved Jacksonville charter? If we are losing $2-5 Million dollars a shot I think we can afford some addition legal fees. I do think it’s time we stopped asking the State to do the right thing and moved our arguments to the federal level. Altogether, we had better stop sitting on our hands and start waving them in the air to get someone’s attention. Remember, now we have 14 of the State’s cap of 24 charters for the whole State of Arkansas approved for Pulaski County.

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