Favorite

Build it or … 

The Little Rock School District has been relatively peaceful since the school election confirmed that the school board would continue for a second year with a majority of black board members. But major issues, inevitably tinged with race, continue to face the board.

The biggest lately is the new school planned at Cantrell Road and Taylor Loop in western Little Rock. The board has not finally decided whether it will be only an elementary school or include a middle school.

Interim Superintendent Linda Watson favors an elementary school. This seems to reflect the thinking of the board majority. Board president Katherine Mitchell told me that when the school was first discussed, it was to be an elementary school (then K-6). She said the district has empty middle school seats. She said demand for middle school might rise and an additional school could be considered later.

Later could be too late. Little Rock is at a tipping point. The city is majority white, barely. The school district, which doesn't include Chenal Valley, among other western neighborhoods, is likely majority minority, counting blacks and the growing Hispanic population. The district is growing poorer by the minute, particularly in Southwest Little Rock. Though district enrollment is up slightly, white enrollment continues to decline. Many in the black community resent the suggestion that an all-black district would be a negative, but, in their hearts, they know that a successful district must have support across all sectors of the community. One way to do that is to retain white children in public schools.

The state is making that hard, by approving a charter middle school in western Little Rock geared to high math and science achievers, and moving to end magnet school support. The state also makes school construction decisions hard for a land-locked urban district. The 18-acre site at Cantrell and Taylor dwarfs, for example, the Pulaski Heights elementary-middle school complex, but it is considered too small by today's standards for both an elementary and middle school. The state could, and should, work with the city on this.

But the main obstacle is the school board. To the extent white students have stayed in the Little Rock schools, they've been attracted to successful neighborhood elementary schools like Fulbright, Jefferson and Forest Park. But it's becoming increasingly difficult to hold those children in middle school. There are none to attend west of Interstate 430.

Parents are reluctant to make a long ride to be part of a shrinking minority in a poor part of town if they have easier choices, such as nearby private schools full of neighbors. Public schools can't compete where they don't exist.

I hope the school board will give careful thought to building a middle school in western Little Rock. It would broaden district support. This would help, not hurt, all board members' interests at tax millage time. It also would be a hand of friendship to a number of district parents who've come to feel — rightly or wrongly — that their views count for little in board deliberations.

Katherine Mitchell told me that a middle school was sure to be considered at some point in the western part of the city. But we are still two years away from opening the new campus on Cantrell, if then. If further study of a middle school doesn't begin until after it is built, there might not be a need for study. The children may already be gone.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Circuit court charge filed against Ten Commandments monument destroyer

    The Pulaski County prosecuting attorney's office filed a direct charge in circuit court today against Michael Tate Reed, who's been held in the county jail since he was arrested June 28 after driving over and demolishing the day-old Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds.
    • Jul 24, 2017
  • Whatever secret bill Senate considers, winners and losers are the same

    The U.S. Senate seems likely to vote Tuesday on a secret health bill. Whatever version is rolled out — and if Sen. John McCain's doctor approves a fly-in so he may vote — the outcome is the same. Bad for working poor and previously sick; good for rich people.
    • Jul 24, 2017
  • Two shot in home on W. 19th

    KARK reports that a 19-year-old woman and 20-year-old man were found with gunshot wounds when police responded to a house in the 4200 block of W. 19th.
    • Jul 24, 2017
  • More »

More by Fritz Brantley

  • He talks, and talks, the talk

    A fellow posted an old newspaper article on his blog about a Mike Huckabee speech to a religious group in 1998. A friend faxed the article to me, then called to ask if I’d yet read it, which I had.
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • The incredible shrinking Huckabee

    Plus: COPS!
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • Going whole hog

    A Q&A with irreverent Arkansas-raised comedian Matt Besser
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.
  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • 'Cemetery angel' Ruth Coker Burks featured in new short film

    Ruth Coker Burks, the AIDS caregiver and activist memorably profiled by David Koon as the cemetery angel in Arkansas Times in 2015, is now the subject of a short film made by actress Rose McGowan.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • We're No. 1! in vote suppression

    It's not often that Arkansas can claim national leadership, so give Secretary of State Mark Martin credit for something.

    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Bangin' in LR

    About 2:30 a.m. Saturday, with the Power Ultra Lounge downtown jammed for a rap show by Finese2Tymes (Ricky Hampton of Memphis), gunfire broke out. Before it was over, 25 people had been wounded by gunfire and three others injured in the rush for safety.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Another Jesus

    • IBS, were you there in Benghazi to personally witness all of Hillary's blunders like you…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • If God felt it necessary to replace the ten commandments, he could do it like…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Football for UA Little Rock

    • He's BSC. Students and tuition-paying parents should be VERY vocal that a football program won't…

    • on July 23, 2017
 

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