Protesters against LRSD takeover target Little Rock Chamber of Commerce | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Protesters against LRSD takeover target Little Rock Chamber of Commerce

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2015 at 5:34 PM

click to enlarge RALLYING CRY: Protesters have a sympathetic message, but the state holds all the cards. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • BRIAN CHILSON
  • RALLYING CRY: Protesters have a sympathetic message, but the state holds all the cards.

Around noon today, a small group of protesters gathered in front of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce to point out the influence of local business leaders in the state's decision to take over the Little Rock School District in January. Former LRSD board members Joy Springer and Jim Ross were among those present, as was Rep. John Walker.

Ross said the group chose the site in question because "the Chamber was central in the takeover .. it seemed like an appropriate place to remind them that black folks and like minded reformers aren't going away, aren't going to quit, and that we plan to call them out." He noted that a number of local realtors were among those pushing the State Board of Education to take over the district, and that state board member Diane Zook — the loudest takeover advocate on that panel — is married to Randy Zook, head of the state chamber.

"They step in just when it gets scary for them — when they no longer have control," Ross said. "We just want to remind them that the city's more than just the business community ... we've been here for a long time."

Springer said, "they saw that this school board was going to do what was right — what was ordered many, many years ago. Back when the court ordered that the schools be desegregated, the city fathers stepped forward and delayed implementation of the consent order ... so once again, we're having history repeat itself."

"You had a school board that was dedicated to meeting the needs of all the children, particularly African American, Latino and poor children ... It's really race discrimination, because those with white privilege want to maintain control over everything."

Such is the vast gulf between the two sides' perceptions. Proponents of takeover see themselves as saving the children of Little Rock — including poor and minority kids — from the dysfunction of a perennially broken district. They characterize Springer and Ross as representatives of the status quo. Springer and Ross saw themselves as change agents, though, who were going to finally make good on the district's decades of broken promises to poor children and African American families. They maintain that their board had the right plan to turn around the LRSD — and that the state takeover has yet to produce any sort of coherent plan.

Still, even for those of us sympathetic to those arguments, its hard to see what can be done about the takeover given the political realities of Arkansas.

I asked Springer and Ross whether it was feasible to demand the state return local control of the district, given that Gov. Asa Hutchinson is unlikely to come around to their way of seeing things anytime soon. Both pointed out that the decision for takeover came from the state board, not the governor.

"The state can vote to return the members of the [local] board back to their positions," Springer said. "They can do it with a simple vote. That can take place. They could do it this week. The same way that they took this action, they can put it back."

Tags: , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (11)

Showing 1-11 of 11

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-11 of 11

Add a comment

More by Benjamin Hardy

Readers also liked…

  • IHOP coming down, but .....

    I always scan the Little Rock City Board for items of interest this week and this one caught my eye: A zoning measure required by a proposal to tear down the IHOP at Markham and University.
    • Apr 30, 2016
  • Satanic Temple: Make Rapert pay for Ten Commandments monument

    A petition drive has begun to encourage a demand that Sen. Jason Rapert pay for the legal fees in defending his Ten Commandments monument proposed for the state Capitol grounds. It's more work by the Satanic Temple, which has fought church-state entanglement around the country.
    • Aug 28, 2016
  • 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

Most Shared

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

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