House approves bill to give regular school districts same waivers charters get | Arkansas Blog

House approves bill to give regular school districts same waivers charters get

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The House today voted 58-18 to approve HB 1377 by Rep. Reginald Murdock to allow a school district to get the same waivers of law that open-enrollment charter schools receive when they draw students from a school district.

Murdock is from Marianna in the Delta and he had support from Helena-West Helena residents who have chafed at the expansion of open enrollment KIPP schools that don't have to meet the same rules on teacher certification and many other requirements that they must meet.

Rep. John Walker gave an extended speech against the bill, apologizing for parting from some black legislative colleagues and friends. But he said the bill amounted to a retreat from the Lake View school decision and its promise of equal and sufficient education, accountable equally across the state. He said anything KIPP does can be done in a public school and had been done in incentive schools in Little Rock before school district leaders reneged on promises to give extra attention to students in all-black schools in poor neighborhoods. He urged the House, too, not to move toward watering down the teacher fair dismissal law.

"You cannot have different rules for poor people and rich people, the haves and have nots," Walker said.

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