by Max Brantley
I submitted a round of questions to Little Rock School Board member Michael Daugherty, who faces opposition for re-election from Anna Swaim and, if he gets his filing worked out by Monday, Drew Pritt. Verbatim:
Q: Care to comment on your announced opponent?
A: It would be unfair for me to comment on someone I’m not familiar with. I will say I have the utmost respect for anyone who offers his/her time and dignity to serve the public in the capacity of school board member. The school board is one of the most challenging positions any public servant could undertake when the only reward you get is knowing you have been of service to others.
Q: Will you participate in candidate forums if they are held?
A: Yes! Candidate forums are especially intriguing to me when they are conducted by people of good character and allow for civility among participants. Properly conducted forums provide an opportunity for people of interest to ask relevant questions and get comparative answers.
Q: Do you have a response to reports about an inaccurate personal resume and testimony about your educational background in the past?
A: I’ve often thought of challenging this openly but in order to do so would require me to provide transcripts to individuals of questionable character and I am uncomfortable with that. Finally, after considerable consideration and with the knowledge that providing the information to those who had already made up their minds about me then asked the question whether I needed them to validate me. I chose not to. It is without question those who think I do not require validation, no explanation is necessary. And for those who do, no explanation will suffice. If you’ll remember, I was told who I was or was not. I was never asked.
Q: Do you support the new WLR School? For what grades?
A: Yes, for grades k4-5. I think the best testimony for the need for the WLR School came from Dr. Linda Watson in her interview for the interim superintendent’s position. She also demonstrated a definite need for building a school in WLR and provided data to indicate this is necessary to help in our efforts to relieve the overcrowding at Fulbright, Jefferson, and Terry Elementary.
Q: Is Central High School on your radar in any way? Specifically, do you think the principal should be replaced?
A: I have been made aware of some concerns at Central High in the last several months. I do believe the issues are something that can be and should be addressed by the incoming administration. I would support the recommendation of the superintendent to the board.
Q: What do you say to those who think John Walker has too much influence over the School Board?
A: People who do not like Mr. Walker can find every reason to attack him covertly. They speak of the more than two decades of federal court involvement. Yet they fail to see the other side of the issue. Mr. Walker filed suit in court several years ago and if his case had no merit it would have been summarily dismissed from the onset. The LRSD kept itself in court by failing to comply with the court’s orders. It’s only now that LRSD, because of incentives from the State, has decided to work to comply with all of the court’s requirements. Can anyone argue the idea that we are much better suited to deal with the edicts of No Child Left Behind because of our court supervision and the fact we already had most of the necessary programs in place, than we would have been otherwise? Also, every child in the LRSD has benefited in some way from the actions of Mr. Walker and the Joshua Intervenors. Be it the creation of magnet and incentive schools to the hiring of literacy and math coaches, all of our students have benefited.
Q: Do you think the race of a candidate is important in making a decision in a LR school board election?
A: I hope this is a rhetorical question. However, in the last election two African-Americans were elected to the board that joined two other sitting board members who represent the poorer and underserved parts of the City of Little Rock. They demanded more accountability from the current administration and have been challenged at every turn by supporters of the chief administrator. I do believe the actions of certain members of this group of supporters have been reckless in their attempts to control board actions through the filing of frivolous lawsuits and have limited the board’s effort to achieve that accountability. This leaves me with the conclusion that what is being challenged other than whether the LR CTA has a right to exist is, whether community oriented African-Americans can provide leadership and make rational decisions when representing their zones if they vote similarly and in a majority.
Straight answers -- well, with one exception -- from another LRSD parent and long-time Board member.