by Max Brantley
Sorry we didn't tell you yesterday that federal Judge Bill Wilson made quick work of denying a delay in scheduled weekend hearings on Little Rock School District compliance with desegregation lawsuit orders.
The board had voted Wednesday to ask for a delay. The vote was a product, at least in part, of an emerging backdoor strategy to keep the school case open. Civil rights lawyer John Walker thinks it's the only way to insure that state money will continue to flow to the district and to provide reliable monitoring of the effort to lift the achievement of black students. Others (not now in a majority in the board) are obsessed with the notion that the long-running lawsuit is the cause of all ills in the district and a staggering financial drain. Actually, the cost is a relative pittance in the budget and it doesn't impinge on daily instruction except favorably in the benefits it has won for LR students. The minute the district is declared "unitary" -- or desegregated -- the state will ask for an end to its subsidies in the district. And if you think the district is desegregated, I invite you to visit any of its schools, be they one-race schools or high schools with a racial mixture often divided into one-race classes based on difficulty of instruction.
I'm glad Wilson rejected a delay. The question of continuing the lawsuit will eventually be decided straight up. For now, an independent fact-finder is welcome to evaluate the dispute over the attempted firing of Karen DeJarnette, director of planning, research and evaluation. Do the facts show she's a sincere whistleblower regarding administration editing of her findings? Or is this just an honest disagreement with the administration and did chain-of-command dictates require that she keep quiet rather than go to the School Board? Let Wilson have a look. There's no dirty to laundry to air that hasn't already been aired.
Note to interested parties: Though the Arkansas Blog bench is deep and strong, I believe I might take a pass on going into federal court lockdown for the weekend to hear about the intricacies of deeply embedding statistical monitoring programs. I invite any who happen to drop by to send comments to the blog, where I'll leave an open line, or e-mail me at email@example.com. Or call me at 663-6758.