One Year Later, LRSD Civic Advisory Committee Neglects Singular Purpose

On January 28, 2015, in the same passed motion which replaced the Little Rock School Board with the Commissioner of Education, the State Board of Education called for “…a formal body of parents, students, community and business leaders, reflective of the Little Rock community and philanthropic organizations (to) serve as a Civic Advisory Committee to aid in improving the performance of students in all schools.” No more; no less.

The previous Commissioner of Education delegated his authority to appoint the committee to Little Rock Legislators, who after over eighty applications, chose a member for each of LRSD’s seven board zones, including a removed board member, Joy Springer, who is now suing the Superintendent, Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner, and State Board of Education in federal court. Legislators also appointed two non-profit organization representatives. The then-superintendent appointed two students and two teachers from each of the six Academic Distress Schools. After Baker Kurrus was named superintendent, he appointed removed LRSD Board President Greg Adams to serve as Co-Chairman along with Zone 4 Member Dionne Jackson, for a total of 34 members.

In the Committee’s year of service it has 1) opposed the expansions of eStem Public Charter Schools and LISA Academy, 2) opposed $3,000,000 private investment to bring Teach for America teachers into district, 3) called upon the Governor to replace Commissioner Johnny Key, 4) called upon the State Board of Education to return the district to return local governance to the Little Rock School District following School Board elections September 20, 2016, and 5) called for a freeze on charters and waivers within Pulaski County until local control is granted.

The Committee’s sole purpose was “to aid in improving the performance of students in all schools.” And yet, it chooses to spend its time, energy and platform fighting future and past decisions of elected and appointed State government.

After a year of retreats and committee/sub-committee meetings and reports to the State Board, I challenge any member of the committee, including two members of the City of Little Rock Board of Directors, to name one way in which the committee has aided in improving the performance of any student in any school.

The appointment of the seven-member LRSD Advisory Board, prescribed by law and rule, cannot come soon enough.

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