Award planned for five former Little Rock School Board members | Arkansas Blog

Monday, February 20, 2017

Award planned for five former Little Rock School Board members

Posted By on Mon, Feb 20, 2017 at 7:44 AM

MARION HUMPHREY: Critic of continued state control of Little Rock School District.
  • MARION HUMPHREY: Critic of continued state control of Little Rock School District.
The Christian Ministerial Alliance has announced it will give the Rev. Williams Robinson Justice Award today to five members of the Little Rock Schoo Board removed by the state Board of Education Jan. 28, 2015.

To be honored are Dr. Jim Ross, Tara Shepherd, Joy Springer, Rev. C.E. McAdoo and Diane Curry, said an an e-mail I received from Marion Humphrey, a Presbyterian pastor who's a member of the organization. This list doesn't include two of the final members of the School Board — Greg Adams and Leslie Fisken. Humphrey was an attorney and McAddo, Ross and Curry plaintiffs in a state lawsuit challenging the state takeover.

I was told Humphrey gave an impassioned speech Friday night at a dinner for the Legislative Black Caucus. He reiterated his criticism of the continued state control of the district, though only 3 of 48 schools fail to meet state proficiency standards and is otherwise making progress. The state, on the other hand, has insisted through Education Commissioner Johnny Key that it must retain control For its part, the state has continued press to drain students and dollars  through creation of new charter schools and forbearance for poor charter schools in Little Rock.

Humphrey's remarks also touched on the failure of city elected officials to stand up for the school district. Good point. To the extent the city's success is harmed by the public school situation, the Little Rock City Board has a decades-long record of direct contributions to the problem (sweetheart annexations deals) or benign neglect. Mayor Mark Stodola was on hand for Humphrey's remarks. Has he stood up for return of local control of the schools?

UPDATE: Humphrey confirms his remarks Friday. He said he doesn't understand why city officials have stood silent on the school takeover, closure of successful schools such as Wilson Elementary and even the loss of Razorback football and independent control of War Memorial Stadium.

He explained that two school board members weren't included for different reasons. Fisken by her votes was a foe of the black majority on the board and viewed as a supporter of the takeover. Greg Adams, a conciliator by nature, was believed to prefer not to be included in recognition by a group viewed as oppositional.

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