"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Charter Schools Threaten Court-Ordered Desegregation in Arkansas

Segregated charter chain gangs such as KIPP and the KIPP knockoffs have quickened the impetus toward resegregation of American schools. But only in school districts like Pulaski County and North Little Rock, Arkansas, which continue to have binding desegregation orders handed down from decades earlier, does the threat of the new apartheid via charter schools get any attention by education officials who are, otherwise, totally enamored by the total compliance black and brown containment model of penal pedagogy.

Since the third school district in the area, Little Rock School District, was ruled earlier this year to have achieved desegregation, the State's Attorney General has been on a crusade to get Pulaski County and North Little Rock the same designation. At stake is $60,000,000 per year in desegregation assistance from the State that can re-targeted to other leafier, whiter districts, once desegregation has been certified by the Courts.

Based on the findings of a report in 2006 by the Office of Desegregation Monitoring, Pulaski County Schools, however, has a ways to go:
A report by the federal Office of Desegregation Monitoring says that while the Pulaski County Special School District has made progress, equal opportunites for black students "remains frustratingly elusive."

The report says the district is inconsistent while carrying out plans for academic achievement, multicultural curriculum and discipline. It said the district, which surrounds the Little Rock and North Little Rock districts, is failing to meet goals set in 2000.

While the district "can point with pride to Advanced Placement, Gifted and Talented, and Honors Programs as an area of African-American progress," there were disparities between white students and black students.

The report's harshest criticism covered discipline, saying the strict made "no real progress in reducing the appalling disclipline sanction rates for black students, especially black males."

About 42 percent of the student body is black, but black students had 58 percent of the district's suspensions and 71 percent of the expulsions.

Pulaski County's district has had four superintendents since 2000 and has been on the state's "fiscal distress" list since 2005. It is at risk of consolidation next year if it doesn't regain financial stability. . . .
And so it is now that Arkansas State Board of Education is seeking a legal opinion from the Attorney General on the potential effects of approving another segregated chain gang to be known as the Little Rock Urban Collegiate Public Charter School for Young Men. Hmm. From Arkansas News, Nov. 9:
. . . .A 2008 study showed that boys are more likely than girls to drop out of school, be expelled, make low grades, commit suicide and be diagnosed with a learning disability, Jackson said. An all-boys school in Little Rock would be better able to address the issues faced by today’s young men than co-ed schools, she said.

The proposed school would serve kindergarten through eighth grade with a maximum enrollment of 696.

Chris Heller, attorney for the Little Rock School District, did not argue against the benefits of an all-boys school but said the board did not have enough information to say whether granting the application would adversely impact desegregation efforts.

“You’ve got a statutory obligation … to not approve this charter school or any other public charter school if it in any manner negatively affects the desegregation efforts of the public school districts,” Heller said.

Most likely the school would have a negative effect on desegregation, Heller argued. He said some charter schools the board has approved have much smaller percentages of black students than they claimed they would have when applying to the board for their charters, in part because black families are less likely to be able to provide transportation.

“Some of the most segregated schools in Pulaski County today are charter schools that were approved by this board within the last several years,” Heller said. . . .
This phenomenon is true, of course, for most any district in America that has charter schools--South or North.

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