On Tuesday, December 4th, 78 Little Rock parents gathered to discuss creation of an open enrollment public charter middle and high school to be located in West Little Rock. The Town Hall meeting was held in the auditorium of the Chenal Valley Church (16025 Taylor Loop Road), but is in no way affiliated with the church. Hosted by Virginia Walden Ford of the Arkansas Parent Network and Gary Newton of Arkansas Learns, also a parent of Little Rock public school students, the meeting was an outgrowth of an initial meeting of just seven parents held at the Arkansas Public School Resource Center (APSRC) less than one month ago. Featured guests were Bethany Culpepper and Cindy Palen, parent leaders of the recently approved Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy K-8 charter in Bentonville (ParentsSeekingOptions.org), which will be managed by Responsive Education Solutions. Charter schools are free public schools, open to all, which operate independently of traditional public school districts. Of the five highest performing or exemplary public schools in Arkansas (out of over 1,100), two are charters – KIPP: Delta (Helena-West Helena) and Haas Hall Academy (Fayetteville). The West Rock Charter (working title), if approved by the Arkansas Board of Higher Education, is projected to open for the 2014-15 school year.
After introductory remarks by the hosts and guests, 90 minutes were spent in dialogue with and among those in attendance. The group adjourned highly motivated by a consensus commitment to continue to mobilize parents in support of the effort in order to: 1) be attractive to the nation’s leading Charter Management Organizations (CMOs), and 2) strengthen the school’s chances of success before the state board.
To that end, those in attendance were encouraged to join the effort at ArkansasLearns.org. The highly interactive online community empowers the West Rock Action Group and its parent members through many features, including:
- Member Directory
- Event Calendar
- Group and Individual Blogs
- Dynamic Forums
- Photo Gallery
- File Library
- Social Connection
“If we can grow from 7 to 78 in less than a month, imagine what 78 motivated parents can do by January,” said Newton. “Arkansas Learns and the Arkansas Parent Network were created to empower these and other parents to to assert their individual and collective leadership to ensure excellent education options for their students.”
For more on charter schools, visit http://www.apsrc.net/PageDisplay.asp?p1=757.