'Growing pains' for eStem at UALR | Arkansas Blog

'Growing pains' for eStem at UALR



The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported in a front-page article about UALR faculty concerns about the impact of the new eStem charter school on campus, ranging from dropoff traffic to noise during finals and the impact of hundreds of new high school students on the gym, library and eating facilities.

Faculty expressed concern that the school could harm the college's own plan to expand enrollment.

The article followed by a day a D-G op-ed by school chief John Bacon talking about the general great success of the new eStem high school campus, which got its start in downtown space leased from Democrat-Gazette publisher Walter Hussman, a stalwart supporter of charter schools. Bacon's "growing pains" op-ed softened up the topic for today's news story,

Unsaid in the article today is lingering unhappiness among faculty about former Chancellor Joel Anderson's deal to put eStem on campus without consulting them.  Said the resolution adopted by the Faculty Senate Friday:

Whereas faculty, students, staff, and administration of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock were not  involved in the process of developing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to bring eStem High School  to the UA Little Rock campus;

Concerns included the impact on public education in Little Roc — that is, the ongoing debate about charter schools' ill effect on the Little Rock public school district.

For the record, here's the Faculty Senate's recommendation on changes in eStem operation to alleviate some of the concerns. Bacon outlined in the D-G steps being taken to address them (rules on student drop-offs, additional lunch hour periods and other measures). The resolution notes enrollment exceeds by 15 the agreed-on limit of 450 for this year and calls for renegotiation of promises of use of more existing UALR facilities.  It suggests some joint oversight by faculty.

the Faculty Senate recommends the formation of a joint eStem/UA Little  Rock committee, which includes faculty from both campuses, charged with establishing, monitoring, and  maintaining a Code of Conduct for eStem student behavior as guests on the UA Little Rock campus and  charged with developing an on-boarding orientation for eStem students;

And Be it Further Resolved that the Faculty Senate recommends continued adult supervision of eStem students on the UA Little Rock campus;
The charter school industry, in general, doesn't take kindly to regulation or oversight by others, be they elected school boards or anyone else not a part of the organization.

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