The state Board of Education
today signed off on the proposal to allow an election to create a Jacksonville School District
separate from the Pulaski County Special School District.
The long-running desegregation case, now nearing completion, had blocked the separation previously. The change is seen as a help also to the Pulaski district. The new district will qualify for state facility construction money.
The election will be in September. The district would include Jacksonville and a section of northern Pulaski County.
The meeting included annual reviews of new charter schools and, I'm told by a friend who was in attendance, that it included an interesting admission by a charter school operator.
Those schools under review included the Premier High School
in Little Rock, operated by Responsive Education Solutions
of Texas. It will soon have four charter schools in the state, plus contracts to manage three for public school districts. Responsive Ed has been criticized for poor performance in a national study and also criticized for teaching creationism in science and faulty history. It furthermore won approval for a new West Little Rock charter school at a location it was making plans to abandon, though it didn't disclose that to the board.
Anyway, Premier leaders reportedly said to the board today that it sent troublemakers back to the Little Rock School District. This was by way of explaining its attrition rate.
Real public schools are required to take all comers. Charters may set all kinds of rules, including longer years and family participation, that sometimes serve as disincentives to some families.
None dare suggest that it is anything but the genius of charter schools — with their self-selected student bodies and motivated parents — that explains the occasional success story of charters or the "failure" often cited of real public schools.
Avoidance of special ed students and "out-counseling" of families who don't get with the program — plus segregation by race and class in many cases — are all part of the "secret" of charter schools. Candid reference to it is welcome.
Wouldn't we all want a school full of good kids with committed parents?