The Little Rock School District
and the Little Rock Education Association
have no progress to report on continued talks toward a new contract with teachers following Education Commissioner Johnny Key's
rejection of a contract that wouldn't allow him to fire teachers at will at 22 district schools.
The LREA met with the district Friday and will resume talks Sunday. Key, who runs the district since state takeover four years ago, gave a two-week extension to the contract that expired Oct. 31. He insists that teachers waive protection under the teacher fair dismissal act for those employed at schools graded D and F under the state report card based primarily on standardized test scores. The schools are primarily made up of poor minority students, the same as some 180 other schools statewide with D and F scores. Key so far has targeted only Little Rock for doing away with the fair dismissal law. It is the only district with a union contract and, to date,,
has been unwilling to give up that state law, which provides for evaluation and counseling and improvement efforts before dismissal. Key has been unable to cite a specific case in Little Rock where the law presented an impediment to firing.
Key complains that the schools aren't improving. He assigns no responsibility for that, apparently, to his department (in control for four years) or the superintendent he hired or the principals or anyone else except union teachers.
It's uncertain what happens if no contract agreement is reached except that, first, teachers will no longer have the LREA as a bargaining agent. There's been talk
of a strike in that event, but it has been muted.