The most common question heard among fifth grade parents in the Little Rock School District is, “What are you doing about middle school?”
While I don’t yet know our ultimate answer, here, as best as I can determine, are the choices:
Attend Zoned School – Forest Heights Middle School
In almost every major category, Forest Heights is among the lowest performing 20% of middle schools in Arkansas. It is also in School Improvement: Year 8.
Participate in Interdistrict, Stipulation Magnet Lottery
Between January 28th and February 8th, compete in weighted lottery (test scores, socioeconomic status, race) with Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special School District students for admission to one of five Interdistrict or Stipulation Magnet Schools: 1) Cloverdale – Aerospace Technology Charter (among lowest performing 48 schools – out of 1,080 – in Arkansas), 2) Henderson Health Science (among lowest performing 48 schools – out of 1,080 – in Arkansas), 3) Dunbar International Studies/Gifted and Talented (School Improvement: Year 9, State Directed), 4) Mabelvale – Environmental Sciences/Medical Sciences/Information Communications Technology (School Improvement: Year 9, State Directed), or 5) Mann Arts & Science (School Improvement: Year 4).
Because of 50/50 Black/Non-Black requirements, the deck is stacked against African-American students.
If we win admission to any of these schools, we must remain in school for a minimum of one (1) school semester, thereby precluding our options for the following:
Participate in Intradistrict Transfer No Transportation (TNT)
Between March 4, 2013 and March 15, 2013, participate in lottery for admission to another school within the district.
If we win admission to our targeted school, we must remain in school for a minimum of one (1) school semester, thereby precluding our options for the following:
Seek Interdistrict Majority to Minority (M-T-M) Transfer
Students whose race is in the majority in their district may transfer to a district where their race is in the minority. Because of our race, we are precluded from transferring to a higher performing school in another district. While the race component has been ruled unconstitutional, it is currently under review by the federal court.
Seek No Child Left Behind Transfer
The original intent was to allow transfers from schools which did not make adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years. Because Arkansas sought and received a waiver for No Child Left Behind, Arkansas parents are precluded from transferring out of an under or non-performing school.
Seek Arkansas School Choice/Act 609 Transfer
Students may apply to attend a district other than the one in which they reside, subject to certain restrictions. Good luck.
Seek Admission to Open Enrollment Public Charter School
With limited seats, admission is based on lottery.
Seek Admission to Private School
With two fifth graders, find way to fund approximately $14,000 to $22,000 annually in private school tuition.
Give a false or misleading address to the Little Rock School District in order to attend the district’s highest performing middle school – Pulaski Heights, even though it is School Improvement: Year 8 and State Directed.
Determine who, my wife or I, will no longer work outside the home and who is (or can quickly become) smarter than a fifth grader.
Relocate out of the district and into a district and school attendance zone of quality.
Rather than parents asking each other, “What are you doing about middle school?”, parents should constantly ask their Little Rock School Board members, “What are you doing about middle school?” Meanwhile, we and other fifth grade parents are doing what those have done before us, and until we change it, those who follow us will do: 1) research and determine choices, 2) weigh options, 3) prepare for possibilities, and 4) make the decision.
All the while, we wonder, “How can our district, state and federal governments continue to fail us by keeping our students trapped in consistently under or non-performing schools?”
For a complete listing of your “school choices,” click here.