Rockefeller PTA objects to way school reorganization being handled | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Rockefeller PTA objects to way school reorganization being handled

Posted By on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 at 7:32 AM

click to enlarge ROCKEFELLER: Parents surprised by reorganization news.
  • ROCKEFELLER: Parents surprised by reorganization news.

I wrote last night about
plans by the Little Rock School District to dramatically alter Baseline and Rockefeller elementary schools and that the news would come in this morning's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before anybody in the schools would be told about it.

That move has drawn a statement from the Rockefeller Early Childhood Center PTA (a separate organizatoin from the Rockefeller Elementary PTA) that says, "LRSD needs to stop announcing major policy and staffing decisions through media leaks." Amen. And I'd add that my efforts to get information about this move last night was stonewalled by both Little Rock schools and the state Education Department, which is now running the school district. It's not a happy example of accountability or communication by the new state overlords. I expected no less from Interim Superintendent Dexter Suggs, unaccountably left in charge of a district that he led into what Education Commissioner Johnny Key chooses to depict as total failure for low scores of six of its 48 schools (including Baseline, but not Rockefeller.)

The Rockefeller statement says the school doesn't know all the details yet. And it isn't immediately critical of expanding the school's unique early childhood component (both nursery school and pre-school classes) into a school devoted entirely to early childhood. But:

It is unfair for parents, students and staff to learn that their school will close or reorganize in the newspaper instead of in a dialogue with LRSD administrators. It is unfair to close and reorganize schools after the enrollment period when families had the most choices available to them. Where are those families to turn now? We know that the Rockefeller community lost some families this year because of the uncertainty the LRSD created.

The full statement, which I received from Rockefeller parent Bill Kopsky follows:



We learned on Monday night of LRSD's intention to close the Rockefeller Elementary School and convert the campus into a larger early childhood center. We are just learning piecemeal details and do not know how existing programs at Rockefeller ECC will be affected. We will find out and share that information with the Rockefeller ECC community. Based on what we know we have the following comments.

As with many things from LRSD lately, these are worthy proposals executed in the poorest fashion imaginable.

We know first hand the power of early childhood education as the PTA of an LRSD early childhood center. We are ELATED the district is considering an expansion of these services. Quality early childhood education is one of the most proven and effective ways to boost student performance for life. This is a positive proposal from LRSD.

But LRSD needs to stop announcing major policy and staffing decisions through media leaks. LRSD needs to stop making decisions affecting hundreds of students, families and staff without the courtesy of talking with those affected first.

It is unfair for parents, students and staff to learn that their school will close or reorganize in the newspaper instead of in a dialogue with LRSD administrators. It is unfair to close and reorganize schools after the enrollment period when families had the most choices available to them. Where are those families to turn now? We know that the Rockefeller community lost some families this year because of the uncertainty the LRSD created.

LRSD needs to stop pretending they can improve schools in our community WITHOUT significant community input. LRSD keeps promising community involvement on how we can improve service to our city's children, but they keep handing down sweeping decisions by dictate. The best policy ideas in the world will not be successful in the culture and climate LRSD is creating. The rifts and mistrust that deepened with recent decisions must be healed.

We welcome the proposal to expand early childhood education and build on the Rockefeller campus to do that. But we are deeply concerned about the way this decision was made and announced. We believe it adds to the corrosive impact this style of management has on everyone in the LRSD community.


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