State's curious idea of accountability in Little Rock schools | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

State's curious idea of accountability in Little Rock schools

Posted By on Wed, Apr 8, 2015 at 3:12 PM

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A followup to my item earlier this week about the list of 64 jobs that Dexter Suggs has said could be cut in the former Little Rock School District, now in state receivership. He also recommended a pay reduction for 11 principals.

Additional recommendations by Suggs for the future include 1) a reduction in teacher prep time so they can spend more time with students and, in some cases, teach more classes; 2) a reduction in support for health insurance (a double punishment for lower-paid teachers in a district where beginning pay lagged, but pay for experienced teachers remained competitive with other districts); and 3) a list of other jobs, some of them  instructional in nature, in a future school year.

I was surprised that some particularly incompetent administrators didn't appear on the list of jobs cut. But then I thought, perhaps these people won't be rehired next year, but their jobs will be retained. So I asked for a list of all those certified employees who've been notified they won't be retained this year though their jobs remain. The district is days away from the statutory deadline for providing notice of non-renewal to such employees.

I was told there was no data responsive to my request.

I can only conclude that Suggs, who's acting as interim superintendent under the director of new Education Commissioner Johnny Key, has recommended no one for non-renewal. Which strikes me as strange.

My point:

The state took over the Little Rock School District and abolished the elected school board because six of its 48 schools were judged in academic distress, or scoring below a 50 average on proficiency tests. The whole district was judged a failure.

More than two months after the state takeover, the superintendent of a failed school district, Suggs, still has his job; the leaders of failed schools still have their job; some incompetent administrators still have their jobs and there is, as yet, no document that suggests anyone has been judged unworthy of rehire, though their jobs are perhaps unnecessary. (Suggs has also said, however, that some of those on the list of 64 may yet be hired again in a reshaped administrative structure.)

Did the School Board cause those low test scores? Really? Not the teachers? Not the principals? Not the superintendent?

It's a bizarre notion of accountability.

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