Policy group urges opposition to new charter seats in Little Rock | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Policy group urges opposition to new charter seats in Little Rock

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2016 at 7:34 AM

click to enlarge MESSAGING: From the Arkansas Public Policy Panel.
  • MESSAGING: From the Arkansas Public Policy Panel.

The Arkansas Public Policy Panel is urging supporters of the Little Rock School District to tell state Board of Education members they oppose applications to be heard this week to dramatically expand the number of charter school seats in the Little Rock School District.

The state staff has already given favorable support to expansion plans of eStem and LISA Academy. The state Board will decide this week whether to review the decision. At both schools, white students and students who don't count as impoverished already predominate in enrollment, unlike the majority black and poor Little Rock School District. A continued concentration of poor students in Little Rock only increases the difficulty of improving education for all.

The push from the Billionaire Boys Club to approve any and all charter schools proposed in Little Rock is based on the assumption — as propagated by the fact-free Democrat-Gazette editorial page — that people seeking charters are fleeing "failing schools." In fact, many seeking charters never enrolled in public schools in the first place. And many who come from public schools, the record shows, were succeeding in those schools. The charters do provide free education in havens from the perceived "problems" of the Little Rock School District. For some, those problems are poor minority students.

Little Rock Superintendent Baker Kurrus has made a powerful demographic case against the continuing charter school expansion here. This undoubtedly hasn't particularly pleased his boss state Education Commissioner Johnny Key, who's carried the Walton family's charter school/school transfer/privatize LRSD agenda as a legislator and since as chief state education officer. The state treads into dangerous territory by continuing to take official action to encourage segregation by race and income in the Little Rock School District. But it has done so for 60 years or more and seems to believe now that the federal courts now favor this "color-blind" approach (meaning blindness to harmful impact on black and poor students.) The current decision-making is complicated by John Walker's latest lawsuit against the state over such actions and disparate treatment of districts based on race all over the state.

Says the Public Policy Panel:

The expansion of the LISA and eStem charters has the potential to undermine the fragile progress LRSD students are making.


1) Join us Wednesday, 12-2pm, for a Twitter Town hall to #StandForARKids.

2) Join us at the Arkansas Department of Education (Four Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201) Thursday (3/10) at 9:30 am to represent for our LRSD schools.

3) Sign up HERE to join educators, community members, and parents this week to build power and support for our LRSD in our Week of Action for #SaveLRSD.

4) Email the State Board of Education members (Toyce Newton, Mireya Reith, Joe Black, Vicki Saviers, Jay Barth, Diane Zook, Susan Chambers, Charisse Dean, and Brett Williamson) and ask them to review the decision to expand charter schools in Little Rock.

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