By Noelle Scuderi
Having lived in Little Rock for only six years, with my oldest child aged seven, I am mostly unfamiliar with the very long history of educational problems and division in the Little Rock School District. From basic observation, however, I have to agree with both sides of this conundrum.
It will be EXTREMELY difficult for the Little Rock schools to improve with SO MANY of the potential student body not even participating in the public education system. It is a cycle that started years ago and has become so endemic in the culture of families in this city where parents with larger socio-economic resources have chosen not to put their children in underperforming schools. And the more caring/involved/conscientious parents that pulled their children out of schools, the worse the schools performed.
It would take a MASS CONFLUENCE of parents putting children back in the public schools simultaneously for there to be significant improvements and yet, this is now IMPOSSIBLE for many reasons.
A single parent wishing to put their children into the public middle school will not be able to make an impact and will likely create a detrimental learning environment for their student, and thus, this is an extremely unwise parenting and educational decision. Furthermore, should a MASS number of parents decide they do IN FACT WANT to try the public school experiment, there is NOT ENOUGH ROOM in the public schools for their students.
Building a new middle school (preferrably more than one!) that is at least within reach of West Little Rock families is of utmost importance. Closing ineffective schools may also be in order which would allow the new schools to be filled in a balanced way with existing public school students and children of parents, like myself, that would love for her children to receive a quality public education in a morally and socially safe environment, that is currently NOT available at the middle school level in Little Rock schools.