by Max Brantley
An interesting fact in Cynthia Howell's roundup in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on the Little Rock School District. Once released from federal court supervision -- and that decision is on appeal -- it would appear that the district falls under a state law that requires districts with a minority population of 10 percent or more to elect school board members from either zones or a combination of zones and at-large. Board member terms are to be five years.
No big deal, you might say. LR now elects members from zones. The only corrective necessary to comply with state law is to give members five-year terms.
But call me suspicious. The fact that this little factoid has suddenly emerged out of thin air is just the slightest bit curious. Is somebody looking for a political way to rearrange the school board deck chairs? You can see where the folks with the big money would like a system that blends single-member with at-large districts. It has worked splendidly at the Little Rock City Board level to concentrate power right where the establishment wants it concentrated -- among those that have the gold. The at-large seats, which require more expensive citywide election campaigns, are inevitably the swing votes.
Surely somebody isn't about to suggest substituting a less democratic form of governance for the school board just because they don't like the way decisions are currently being made. Surely not. Surely this is just a paranoid delusion. Though you know what they say about paranoia. Sometimes, they really ARE out to get you.