State board splits school district | Arkansas Blog

Monday, May 10, 2010

State board splits school district

Posted By on Mon, May 10, 2010 at 12:20 PM

Busy day at the state Board of Education, as its useful blog reports:

* The Board split the Twin Rivers School District up among six other districts, but also increased the enrollment limit of a charter school in Imboden to allow that as an option for more current students.

* Over some expressions of concern that the school was moving farther from its target audience of black males, the Board voted 4-2 to allow the Urban Collegiate Public Charter School for Young Men to open on what is now the Lutheran High School Campus on West Markham Street near Park Plaza Mall rather than in a former car dealership on South University Avenue. Sam Ledbetter and Alice Mahony voted no. The Board member who is employed in private life by the Walton Foundation to advance the charter school agenda, Naccaman Williams, naturally was among the four who voted for whatever the charter school wanted, along with (Walton-financed) eStem charter school founder Vicki Saviers. (CORRECTION: In this case, Williams didn't vote because he's Board chairman and his vote wasn't necessary to break a tie.) Jim Cooper and Toyce Newton weren't present.

UPDATE: Little Rock School Board member Jody Carreiro, who opposes a lawsuit by LRSD over charter schools, wrote an interesting letter about the charter move -- from a neighborhood with needy kids to a majority white neighborhood with succeeding schools where target kids will require even longer transportation.

LETTER FROM JODY CARREIRO TO STATE

Dr. Kimbrell and others,
 
I am speaking as private citizen, Jody Carreiro, because as you know, the majority of the Little Rock School District board has voted to allow our attorney to pursue legal solutions to charter issues with the state.  As I have stated publicly and will again state here, I have confidence that you and the Board of Education are moving toward reasonable solutions to these issues.  I also believe that the issues involved are more political than legal in nature.  Therefore, I remain opposed at this time to trying to correct these issues through judicial means.  This point being made again, I want to offer my concerns and informed citizen opinions about the change of address before the Board on May 10.  (I must apologize.  I would have offered a more timely and more formal response, but our board was informed Wednesday afternoon and my schedule and Mother's day weekend didn't allow me to respond until now in this manner.)
 
I am opposed to the Board approving the change of address for UCPC.
 
I have met Mrs. Jackson on several occasions and deeply appreciate her passion for young men seem to not have their needs met by other sources.  I have expressed interest in exploring ways that the LRSD and UCPC or similar groups could work in concert.  By the way, I am convinced that for the long term survival of all of our charters schools there will eventually have to be a cooperative effort between local schools and the charters that serve the same population, but that is a discussion I would love to have another time.  BUT, the UCPC charter that was approved details the lack of service to young men in 72204 and 72209.  The school has reportedly canvassed those areas by mail at least. The charter notes the geographical concentration of this need.  And now the school wishes to move to the 72205 zip code area.  And unless it was not contained in the letter we received, the school still does not provide any transportation.  Therefore, we have a geographically concentrated problem that we are going to address with a school in a different geographical area of the city and not provide transportation.  This would escape logic.
 
Part of me would enjoy the irony of a school designed to attract lower income, mostly African American boys next door to a mostly white private school.  But, I question the long term strategy of approving one race charter schools (whether white or black) in a state with a stated goal of providing quality education to all children of all races.
 
I am well aware of the LRSD issues and shortcomings, especially in the middle schools.  Although much of the state and nation is dealing with similar issues in the middle grades.  But this move makes the elementary part of the issue much more confusing.  A quick review of the elementary schools nearest the proposed address shows the nearest schools in each direction to be Williams, Brady, Bale and Pulaski Heights.  A review of the school improvement status shows that 3 of these schools are Achieving and Brady is on year 1.  Not exactly a track record to ignore.  Again the change of address doesn't appear logical.
 
Thank you for your time and I hope that the Board proves me accurate in my assessment of seeking to be more logical and cooperative on the charter school issue.
 
I look forward to continued discussion on these important issues.
 
Jody
 
Jody B. Carreiro
Little Rock School Board, Zone 5

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