After everything the Little Rock School District has been through — all of the blood, sweat, tears, time, money, energy, litigation — we have too many kids that don't learn. We have many who soar to unbelievable achievement, but I am haunted by the failure of too many of our city's kids. ... For many kids, including my own, LRSD was an unbelievably satisfying and successful experience. Many, many parents and students succeed, and we all celebrate the wonderful teachers and administrators who make this possible. But should we be satisfied by the successes and accomplishments of some, when many are failing?
No matter your skin color, if you can wheedle your child into a good school, whether public, private or charter, you will get what you need. If a child is born to a situation without a strong advocate, that child will indiscriminately be educated in an environment that is designed to employ adults and meet their needs, rather than meet the needs of the child. It is morally wrong and awful, as Dr. King said from the Birmingham jail.
In retrospect, LRSD was the biggest loser. These actions vaulted charter schools to the forefront, drove parents and students out, and eroded community support. The hiring of a replacement was perfunctory and preordained. This has not worked so far, and it won't work in the future. We must work together.
Twelve years on a school board takes a toll. Maybe the most difficult part was walking away, knowing that much hard work remains to be done. The greatest challenge was trying to remain positive and optimistic when so many people were not. The greatest thrill was handing my three children their high school diplomas. The greatest disappointments were the lack of outrage at a school system in disarray, and the acceptance by school employees of things that were appalling. The greatest challenge, which is still completely unmet, was and is to find a school district administration committed to deep and meaningful reform, even if that means that some good people lose their jobs. Most inspiring was the dedication and effort of thousands of teachers, administrators, parents, students and volunteers who worked tirelessly to make life better for kids. Most baffling is the lack of any consequence for failure. It was good, bad, ugly and beautiful, and now it is over.