October 29, 2012
Gary Newton, CCE
400 West Capitol Avenue, Suite 1700
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201.3438
Re: Creation of a new middle school in West Little Rock
First, let me tell you how much I appreciate your work toward getting a new school built in West Little Rock, and achieving a better education for our kids in the Little Rock School District. As parents of a 3rd grader and a 5th grader, we are extremely frustrated with the school board, city leadership, and the lack of quality options for our girls’ education. We, like many parents, are frustrated to the point that we refuse to send our girls to middle school in the LRSD system. We are willing to purchase another home in another city for the simple purpose of escaping the LRSD. And there are many parents with the same mindset… they are moving also, not only taking students out of the LR school system, but also taking tax dollars out of the city coffers.
It is equally frustrating to read two articles appearing in the Democrat-Gazette just this week about a “new study” being conducted to find out why middle and high school enrollment is falling. And why education scores are dropping. Do they really need a new study? The answers are obvious. And they’ve been obvious for decades. Education is not the goal here. If so, they would have built a new school in West Little Rock, where much of the population has shifted, long ago. The issue here, is race. So much attention is put on race that the real issues are neglected. The money spent, is based on race. Another $875,000 has been requested from the Pulaski County Special School District by attorneys asking for compensation for work done related to a 30-year old desegregation case. 30 years ago? Move on. This city/county will never get past its race issues as long they continue to focus on the past. And every time the city hires a new school leader, black or white, who recognizes the real issues, the race-oriented school board leaders who somehow still hold so much influence run those people off.
Back to the issue of declining enrollment in the city’s middle schools… a simple check of the school academic achievement reports, student behavior reviews, and police reports will push any caring parent to steer their children away from a LRSD middle school, if at all possible. It is widely known that many parents opt to spend tens of thousands of dollars on private school, even after paying a greater percentage in taxes than ever before to run our cities and our schools. We are taking a different approach. We plan to use the money that would go to a private school, and invest that money in a new property that gives us access to a quality school system, and will also offer equity in an investment that will help us pay for our children’s college education. We don’t want to move. But it seems to make the most sense financially, and for the good of our girls.
Our girls currently go to school at Roberts Elementary, and we love that school. Our girls are able to take advantage of some great programs – EAST and the Gifted and Talented Program to name just a couple. They rank in the top percentile in the nation for academic testing. We’ll miss Robert’s and the great people who make that a wonderful school. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to go from there… except, for us, the Lakeside School District, where many Little Rock parents have already beat us on enrollment for school next year. We wish you luck with your efforts, and will continue to do all we can to help.