A highly emotional meeting took place yesterday in Arkansas to discuss whether or not the state would take over the Little Rock School District, which has been struggling for some time. In addition, the state members also voted to take over the school board, or to retain it.
According to THV11,six schools in the district were found to be under performing last year. One elementary school, two middle schools, and three high schools were in academic distress, out of the 48 total schools in the district. The Arkansas State Board of Education opened the meeting to concerned parents, teachers, and students, who argued for nearly four hours for the school board to retain control, but to no avail. The state voted 5-4 to take over the Little Rock District, and to dissolve the school board. Only the superintendent was allowed to stay in an interim basis.
ABC News reports that although the state is set to take over the board, an advisory committee made up of parents, students, and community members will be formed.
As you can imagine, parties on both sides of the issue are passionate about the cause. Jim Ross, a Little Rock board member since November, was clearly upset.
“They will take our schools apart, they will sell them. And black children and Latino children will begin to suffer at a greater level like they do in Detroit, like they do in Chicago, like they do in Memphis.”
Democratic Senator Joyce Elliott was also devastated by the vote in favor to take over. She does make an excellent point. Short, concise, and very blunt.
“If I break my arm, you don’t put my whole body in a cast. That’s kind of where we are with six schools; it’s not the entire district.”
This video details the strong reactions of some of those involved.
Members of the state who voted to take over the district did so out of concern for the students of the underperforming schools. State Board chairman Samuel Ledbetter cautions that changes may not be noticed immediately, but the hope is that conditions for the distressed schools will improve quickly.
Apparently, a history of racial issues in the Little Rock district has caused some to believe that is the driving factor behind the state vote in favor to take it over. Ledbetter is quick to put those rumors to rest. Racial problems have nothing to do with the vote.
“It’s a dark past in our state but we’re so far past that. It’s a diverse board and no vote in this board has taken place along racial lines.”
Hopefully the controversial decision for the state to take over the LSRD will prove the right one. What do you think?
[Image via AJC]