Parent, teacher input a must 

The state of Arkansas disbanded our school board and took over the Little Rock School District in January. The official reason was because six of 48 of our schools are in academic distress. The real reason was to end decades of dysfunction between the LRSD and the Little Rock School Board. The state of Arkansas thought it could do a better job.

Three months into the takeover, it appears the state has no plan and things are getting worse. The amount of rumors are increasing, negatively impacting the morale of everyone in the district as a result. LRSD is not providing effective communication and is not seeking input from those impacted most. There does not appear to be a distinct vision currently in place.

Rockefeller Early Childhood Center first received knowledge through the Arkansas Blog that our principal was being reassigned. Unfortunately, he also learned about it from the same blog. We immediately expressed concerns to the LRSD and requested a public meeting, but were snubbed.

A few weeks later we learned through the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the LRSD wanted to expand early childhood education. The idea of expanding is great. However, the proposal also included eliminating the award-winning infant and toddler program at Rockefeller. This only gave parents and staff six weeks' notice that the program would close. The proposal also included closing Rockefeller Elementary School with only a three months' notice and no outside input for those impacted by this.

We are thankful that LRSD reversed course on some items. The infant and toddler program will now continue at least through the summer. We are hoping for a more long-term decision for the program soon. An advisory group is forming to assist with keeping families and the community informed with the most current information available. However, there's ongoing uncertainty about whether Rockefeller Elementary families will be included for input.

This is not how you correct a dysfunctional school district. This is not how you treat families and communities who've entrusted you with their children. This is not how you treat the parents and staff who are the foundation of success in the district.

Rockefeller parents love our early childhood program. There's no better childcare option within the city, at any price. Many parents jostled to get on Rockefeller's waiting list long before their babies were born. Rockefeller's remarkable program for newborns through 3-year-olds is one of the most effective ways to improve academic opportunities. We also agree that expanding the early childhood program is a fantastic proposal, but the voice of Rockefeller early childhood and elementary families should be included in decision-making.

A large percentage of us in Little Rock love and support our schools. We want to make every school and the entire district function better. However, someone needs to value and ask for our input.

We need to know and understand how the LRSD and the state Education Department will make decisions that impact everyone. We need a reliable process that is transparent so we can all see how decisions are made. We need a process that is inclusive so faculty, staff, students, parents and the community can provide meaningful input. Different parts of our society have different self-interests and concerns. Those differences make us stronger and can't be overlooked.

We need a process that recognizes the importance of success in all of the district. We need to value our parents, our students, our staff and our community as incredible assets. We do not want to continue having a negative image that we are obstacles to positive change.

We need to identify what we can build on and get the job done. The LRSD has many success stories. We need to rely on proven strategies to improve and maintain the success of our schools. We cannot let ideology dictate our future. We need a process that avoids arbitrary decisions announced via media leak.

We will continue to descend into dysfunction until the LRSD and ADE jointly create a fair and transparent process that we can all believe in.

Kiffanie Walker is vice-president of Little Rock School District's Rockefeller Early Childhood Center PTA.


From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Little Rock School District, Arkansas Department Of Education

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Schlafly's influence

    Phyllis Schlafly, mother, attorney and longtime antifeminist, died recently. What Schlafly promoted was not novel or new. Men had been saying that men and women were not equal for years. However, anti-feminism, anti-women language had much more power coming from a woman who professed to be looking out for the good of all women and families.
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Seven

    The controversy over the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol lawn just won't go away.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • Why a change of leadership at the LRSD now?

    Johnny Key's abrupt, unilateral decision to not renew Baker Kurrus' contract as superintendent strikes us as shortsighted, misguided and detrimental to the education of our children and the health of our community.
    • Apr 21, 2016

Most Shared

Latest in Guest Writer

  • Can't afford to gut ACA

    The Affordable Care Act was passed into law with the promise that it would make insurance affordable. Because of bipartisan leadership in Arkansas, we continue to strive to achieve that goal. While rhetoric abounds, it is important to understand the Arkansas experience.
    • Sep 21, 2017
  • Tipping point

    I was extremely cautious before engaging in the educational debate about the State Board of Education's decision to take over the Little Rock School District.
    • Sep 14, 2017
  • Left behind

    Arkansas is getting a lot of attention for our very low unemployment rate. If you look only at that number (3.4 percent), you would think workers here were doing quite well — better than surrounding states and even the nation as a whole. But that seemingly simple rate can hide some huge gaps in prosperity.
    • Sep 7, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »


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 Recent Comments

  • Re: Trust and obey

    • A very timely and beautifully written piece. Indeed, the whole frightening paradigm is about preserving…

    • on October 15, 2017
  • Re: Trust and obey

    • Anyone else ponder how many times donald trump, playboy for five-decades, may have paid for/insisted…

    • on October 14, 2017
  • Re: Conspiracy theories

    • Here's the business end of the Politifact article cited above by Vanessa: "Newsweek's claim is…

    • on October 14, 2017

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