A Little Rock school settlement: Nice idea, but probably a non-starter | Arkansas Blog

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Little Rock school settlement: Nice idea, but probably a non-starter

Posted By on Mon, Jul 29, 2013 at 6:18 AM

FLOATS SETTLEMENT IDEA: Chris Heller, LR school lawyer.
  • FLOATS SETTLEMENT IDEA: Chris Heller, LR school lawyer.
Cynthia Howell at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette talked with Little Rock School District attorney Chris Heller about his idea for a potential settlement of lingering issues in the Pulaski County school desegregation case as a federal court hearing approaches.

The Little Rock District has always made a good case that the state is bound permanently to support the original magnet schools devised as part of the 1989 school settlement to attract to problematic parts of town students who otherwise might have fled the district, as well as to bring in students from neighboring majority-white districts in North Little Rock and Pulaski County.

The push for charter schools has hurt some of the magnet schools, particularly at the middle school level. North Little Rock is now majority black. Pulaski County has its own set of problems, including a strong movement to separate Jacksonville.

Even some of the proponents of magnet schools, some significant ones I can tell you, have begun rethinking the future of these schools.

So up steps Heller with an idea. If the state only had a rational and fair system of providing support for 1) teachers' health insurance and retirement benefits and 2) school transportation, Little Rock might not need the extra money the state has spent on these two items in support of the magnet school portion of the desegregation lawsuit settlement. (I read between the lines that Little Rock would still get the $20 million or so, but just as part of a statewide formula that lifted all school districts, too, not as desegregation money.)

Nice try. We've written before what a puny amount the state provides generally in support of teacher health insurance — far less than it provides other state employees. Bus support also has been criticized for failing to have a rational relationship to transportation .

Why not equalize those programs statewide, Heller asks. Such a plan would hold Little Rock harmless by providing the same money through a different categorical program rather than desegregation aid. It would, more importantly, help everyone else, including the politically potent charter schools. It's a crafty idea. What school official wouldn't like more financial support for teacher benefits and buses? Where do we sign up?

One tiny problem: Accomplishing this goal would mean additional state spending overall and that would require legislative approval. Even if you took the Little Rock School District precipitating factor out of the equation — and even if it would bring some overdue fairness to teacher benefits — it is hard to see additional spending as a starter in the current political climate. Far more popular is Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's vow to end aid to Little Rock once and and for all. The state has by no means cured its discriminatory acts against Little Rock. It's even set about new ones. But the federal courts these days exhibit little concern with history or present-day reality. Things have changed, Chief Justice John Roberts insists.

PS — Couldn't help but note in another article that new Superintendent Dexter Suggs (still haven't heard back from him about a provocative note he sent to the teachers union president that fell into my hands) proposes to establish a gifted students academy. Sounds a little like a magnet school, but one created without special state assistance.

Tags: , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Federal judge wants John Goodson to explain class action maneuvering

    A show-cause order filed Monday by federal Judge P.K. Holmes of Fort Smith indicates class action attorney John Goodson has some explaining to do about the move of a class action complaint against an insurance company from federal to state court with an instant pre-packaged settlement that has been criticized as a windfall for Goodson.
    • Dec 22, 2015
  • Speaking of the Clinton Foundation: Returns in maize and beans

    A reporter for Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking organization, sent a reporter to Africa to see where money given to the Clinton Foundation has been put to work. He found tangible results.
    • Sep 6, 2016
  • Jason Rapert vs. Wikipedia

    Sen. Jason Rapert against the world: Wikipedia edition.
    • Jan 23, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Another week done

    • More news on the "unmasking scandal" and it even shows up on a conservative news…

    • on July 21, 2017
  • Re: Another week done

    • "Analysis of the tortured syntax in Trump's New York Times interview suggests mental decline or…

    • on July 21, 2017
  • Re: Trump at work on obstructing justice; French Hill dodging questions

    • Razor--"How about covering up the cause of the American deaths at Benghazi..." How many official…

    • on July 21, 2017



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