Move afoot to scuttle review of charter school expansions | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Move afoot to scuttle review of charter school expansions

Posted By on Thu, Mar 17, 2016 at 1:07 PM

With about 27 hours notice, the state Education Department has announced a special meeting of the state Board of Education tomorrow to rescind votes to review several charter school applications, including major expansions of the eStem and LISA Academy charter schools in Little Rock.

Benji Hardy will have more. My words in the interim: This stinks.

The charter school lobby does NOT want a public discussion of all the issues the state staff does NOT cover in reviewing applications — including test scores, demographic makeup and potential impact on a school district the state now runs, Little Rock. Some of those facts might prove inconvenient. (See earlier story today about how charter schools disproportionately suspend black and special ed students.) They want no discussion that strays from the talking points of choice (without demonstration if the choices are as portrayed); waiting lists (without proof they are meaningful); and so much  more.

What's worse here is that this meeting couldn't have come about without discussion by Board members with SOMEBODY. Did they speak or exchange information among themselves in private, which the Freedom of Information Act prohibits? Or are they merely taking orders from the Billionaire Boys Club?

It stinks.

If the state Board will not be allowed to review charter school applications independently, why even have a state Board of Education. Just let the Walton Family Foundation and their longtime baggage handler in the Senate, Education Commissioner Johnny Key, call the shots.

So far, it appears the Ed. Dept. is saying this special hurryup meeting to stop the discussion was scheduled by Board Chair Toyce Newton. As has been reported previously, she has close associations with those active in the school "reform" movement.

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