Trump, hatred and the economy
I hope The Donald has to cancel his appearance in this state, because if he makes a speech here he'll probably inspire more anti-Hispanic hatred. He's the No. 1 Republican candidate, because most Republicans hate for any Hispanics to be living in this country, despite the circumstances. It's like, for many Arkies, the war against Mexico didn't really end in the 1800s.
I wasn't disappointed by Hillary's economic proposals. I'd be feeling very disappointed now if my expectations had been high. But when it comes to the Clintons, I have Walmart-style expectations — always the rock-bottom-low expectations — always.
Our economy keeps getting worse — and I don't expect that to change. It's a crisis due to a combination of problems: too many big corporate mergers, outsourcing, and increased automation and computerization, two factors that can't be stopped and will get worse.
Private enterprise has never provided enough jobs that pay a living wage or even just enough jobs — and it never will. Here's what we need: an upper-wealth limit and an upper-income limit. A minimum wage that stays at the optimal amount that computers at the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve say it is. A government works program that provides a living-wage job to every American who wants or needs one. A guaranteed minimum income for every American, whether they're working or not.
Create school campuses
The only avenue available for a plain person to talk with the Little Rock School District's Powerful People (PP) is randomly called public meetings. At these forums, one has a few minutes to express oneself in a room of nonpliable, often angry, people. Such meetings allow the PP to say that they listen to us. Have you ever noticed the uncomfortable facial expressions of the PP and their supportive agents at such meetings as they dutifully listen to the comments of common folks? Not giving people quality time to talk with the PP assures that the LRSD acts in the Same Old, Same Old (SO, SO) way — worse, now the business model is being foisted onto the district by Arkansas's most powerful PP as if our schools were a part of Wally World. Congratulations to the Little Rock superintendent who said that school leaders needed more power and that the district could sell schools. Now if only he became fully aware of three successful schools within his district: Lisa Academy, eStem Charter School and Forest Heights to a lesser degree. All three schools have a campus structure. Two of the schools serve pre-K through 12th grade with K-8 attending Forest Heights. The superintendent could also study the successful private schools in our town. Guess what? They use a campus system, and they serve pre-K through 12. There is plenty of open space in Little Rock to create attractive Pre-K–12 campuses. A campus by design is not attached to a particular neighborhood, but rather an instructional space serving the community. For example, think of UALR, Children's Hospital, the medical school and Episcopal Collegiate. Those places are associated with what they do, not with where they are located. The same thing will be true for good public school campuses wherever they are situated. Therefore, Mr. Superintendent, I hate to rain on your parade, but the millions you spend on Baseline Elementary will not significantly change its effectiveness. The worn-out school is locked into a neighborhood, and no matter who runs it, and how much you spend, you will not create a diverse population or better school. For you to think that the former employees were the problem is stinking thinking.
The PPs generally use and support their own churches, clubs and schools, and that diverts their attention from public schools. Because they separate themselves from the public, it is difficult for them to have concern for us. However, Little Rock and Arkansas might decide to end SO, SO schooling and build a campus system. The Finns have a saying that the school building is another teacher. That is certainly true for a school village. Little Rock and Arkansas are ripe for a new vision of public education. Will our superintendent open the door for change or keep it shut with the SO, SO lock?
Richard Emmel Little Rock
Children should become priority
Thank you for this excellent first report of the upcoming series on Arkansas's child welfare system in the Times, and for your readers' help in funding Kathryn Joyce to conduct this series. She is an outstanding reporter and her journalistic skills are so evident in this first report.
I have worked with children of incarcerated parents for 30 years, and many of the children have been in our child welfare system. I know the flaws of the child welfare system too well, and the long-lasting impacts of priority failures and politicized policy-making and practices of the system.
The urgent need for prioritizing of these children, who are in every way OUR children when the state takes custody, will require new policies and substantive improvements in our judiciary system, which is often imperial in its many decisions. We need to recognize our own accountability for permitting legislators to put these children on the back burner when it comes time for budgeting. A more uniform system would certainly help, removing the county-based culture as the primary decision-maker, often defying the senior management and the mission of this system.
We can see the lack of priorities that permit children to be so destabilized that they are packing up multiple times a year for placements in myriad different settings. One child I served had moved 13 times in three months. The mantra of "if in doubt, take 'em out," which I have heard more times than I ever wanted to, is an inadequate response to these children. It is a CYA malady and does harm to the children. It is also playing cavalierly with the very serious effects of attachment disruptions and the lifetime harm of such.
We the citizens of this state need to recognize the urgency to take a more substantive role to create state policies to protect these children.
Dee Ann Newell, founder and director of Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind