Teachers in the Little Rock School District are buzzing about Superintendent Roy Brooks’ plan to expand so-called merit pay.

Brooks confirmed to us that he’s found a source of money in the Walton Family Foundation to finance another “merit pay” experiment in Little Rock schools. Teachers could apply for bonuses of up to $10,000 that would be awarded based on how their students perform over a school year on standardized tests. Millions in Walton money has long gone to merit pay, charter schools and other initiatives unfriendly to teacher unions and standardized pay schedules.

Participating teachers may be chosen by lot, but Brooks has said final details are still being worked out. The School Board will be asked to approve the plan once it is firmed up. It follows merit pay experiments financed at Meadowcliff School by Democrat-Gazette publisher Walter Hussman and by the school district. Though Hussman’s newspapers and others have proclaimed the Meadowcliff plan a success based on one standardized test, another standardized test puts those students among the worst in Arkansas.

Hackles up

Members of the Little Rock Classroom Teachers Association think the merit pay plan is part of Brooks’ strategy to decertify the teachers union. They also aren’t happy about Brooks’ style.

According to teachers who were present when he presented the idea to a group of district teachers Jan. 18, Brooks said that “good teachers” would support him.

We asked him later about that. Could a teacher who disagreed with him still be a “good” teacher? “Certainly,” he said. And, does he want to get rid of the CTA? “What I’m trying to do is help my children. Anything impeding what I consider to be an opportunity to help these children, I don’t think it’s beneficial.”

Dean dumped

At least nine people attending the Geyer Springs Neighborhood Association meeting last week, in which president Wilandra Dean was ousted, gave as their address Zimmerman’s Sports Center, a service station on University Avenue, when they signed in.

Johann Linker, landfill manager for association swain BFI Inc., explains: They’re members of an incorporated group, the Coalition to Expand the BFI Landfill, headquartered at Zimmerman’s. And he wasn’t paying their dues when he was handing out $5 bills to the coalition members so they could join the association and take part in the election of officers; he was just helping out because the association treasurer didn’t happen to have change for larger bills.

So goes the explanation for what some are calling a coup by BFI of a group that will be asked its opinion when the landfill seeks permission from the city to extend its dumping permit for another 15 years.

Dean, who has been a vocal opponent of the expansion of the BFI landfill, said dozens who voted didn’t meet by-law requirements to be members. BFI supporter Betty Snyder was elected to Dean’s position.

Southwest Little Rock UP has called a meeting for 7 p.m. Feb. 6 at the Dee Brown Library to discuss what it says was an illegal vote and to teach other neighborhood associations in the area how “to avoid a hostile takeover.”



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