Diane Ravitch gives voice to critic of LRSD takeover | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Diane Ravitch gives voice to critic of LRSD takeover

Posted By on Thu, Aug 13, 2015 at 2:07 PM

On her widely read blog, education reform critic Diane Ravitch today endorses a polemic by Barclay Key about the travails of the Little Rock School District.

Key is one of the plaintiffs suing the State Board of Education over its January 28 takeover of the LRSD; that suit has been stayed by the Arkansas Supreme Court for the time being. A professor at UALR and colleague of former local board member Jim Ross, Key insists that the state takeover is at its core about maintaining white dominance in a majority black school district.

"Even a casual observer must admit that the state of Arkansas seems hell-bent on destroying our school system, maintaining white supremacy, and keeping our most vulnerable children in a cycle of poverty. The vultures of privatization are circling," he writes.

Key also has plenty of harsh words for state-appointed superintendent Baker Kurrus, including plans to throw out the district's longstanding contract with the local teachers union, the Little Rock Education Association.

I'll avoid editorializing too heavily about this for the time being, other than to make two points. Neither is remotely original, but I think they could stand to be juxtaposed for a change.

1) Barclay Key is right to emphasize that the state takeover involved the transfer of political authority from a majority-black policymaking body to state leaders who are mostly white. In a district and a city so prominently defined by race — not just in 1957, but in all the intervening decades as well — that fact simply cannot be glossed over as merely happenstance, as just an unfortunate aside. I think it's fair to say that most of the African American community in Little Rock doesn't see it as an aside.

2) Key implies — and Ravitch states outright in her preface — that the LRSD takeover has been engineered by the Walton Family Foundation, a leading national proponent of choice-centric "education reform." There's not really any direct evidence to support this assertion. As yet, the district hasn't moved towards privatization. When it comes to Walton influence, there are "dots to connect," as Key puts it, but they remain just that — dots.

Though the Waltons are hugely influential in Arkansas, and though they're surely watching LRSD closely, the politics of public schools are complex and multifaceted. There are overlapping interests between school administrators, teachers' groups, the business world, both political parties, conservative and progressive lobbying interests, and others. That's one reason why a major piece of Walton-sponsored legislation that was aimed at Little Rock schools, HB 1733, went down in flames last legislative session: It overreached and attracted powerful opposition. The Waltons have a policy agenda, to be sure. But do they actually control what happens in the new LRSD? To me, that's not at all clear.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Benjamin Hardy

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Lynchings hidden in the history of the Hot Springs Confederate monument

    Hot Springs twice erupted into the kind of violence that has its roots in the issues left unresolved by the Civil War, and both times, it happened right where that monument to Confederate soldiers stands today.
  • Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

    Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



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