Former Little Rock School Board member and state senator John Riggs responded to John Brummett's column on the recent Chamber of Commerce attack on the Little Rock School District. He's something of a middle of the roader, too. The attack went too far in trashing the School District, he thinks, but he's generally supportive of those seeking more charter schools.
Riggs goes on to talk about some truly different ideas, such as restructuring all Pulaski County school districts into small districts. He rightly notes that the biggest failures here (and everywhere in the U.S.) are in poor neighborhoods. Why not admit defeat and turn schools in these neighborhoods over to a different operator, he suggests. I've long advocated this as at least a trial. I'd like to see the School District contract with a charter operator (KIPP, eStem, whoever) and give that group the keys to one of the worst schools in the district. The only catch is that they'd have to work with students assigned there by attendance zone. It wouldn't be an opt-in school populated wholly by children of motivated families. They'd be dealt exactly the same hand a school district is dealt. Students could, of course, opt out of the school. I know some people in the charter movement and on the Little Rock School Board who'd be amenable, but there'd be many objections, too.