Arkansas Billionaires Democracy Little Rock Walton Foundation

Little Rock: Parents and Activists Fight Against Sham of “Restoring Local Control”

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In Arkansas, the governor and the legislature does not want the citizens of Little Rock to have democratic control of their public schools. They took over the schools five years ago and were supposed to return it to the people but passed a hoax of a bill.

Now activists have filed a lawsuit to expose the hoax and demand a real return to democratic control of their schools.

Max Brantley, veteran journalist in Little Rock, explains how the state intends to clamp down on a new local board and hang on to the reins of power.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of three plaintiffs by Matthew Campbell, challenges the state Board’s order that prevents the School Board from filing lawsuits; from negotiating with the teachers union on a contract, and from firing the school superintendent.

The plaintiffs are a parent of a child in the district, Heather Speyer-Rainbolt; Jim Ross, a member of the School Board disbanded by the state five years ago on account of low standardized tests scores in a handful of the district’s almost four dozen schools, and Marshall Sladyen, a teacher at Hall High School.

The lawsuit argues that the state’s ability to control the district ended by law at the five-year trusteeship period in January. Then, the state had to consolidate, annex or reconstitute the district. The state contended that it had reconstituted the district by allowing the election of a new board at the end of this year. But it put three key limits on its powers. It has since acted in other ways to assert control — including in the naming of a school and designation of a principal and asserting that it could act in any way it found necessary to oversee practices in the district.

So, the hoax is exposed. The new locally elected board is not allow to file lawsuits; it is not allowed to restore the teachers’ union; it is not allowed to fire the superintendent hired by the state. The state board can do whatever it wants to intervene in the district and the local board is powerless to stop it. The state board, the state superintendent, the governor, and the legislature are determined to crush democracy in Little Rock, without regard to the law.

Behind the hoax are the Waltons, who treat the state as their private plantation. I asked a local parent about who was pulling the strings and she replied:

The Waltons are behind the efforts to maintain indefinite state control beyond the five years allowed in state law. The State Board of Ed member (Chad Pekron) who proposed the limitations on returning LRSD local control (no collective bargaining, and no filing lawsuits) was appointed by our governor just a few months ago, when Jay Barth’s term ended. Chad Pekron stayed on the board only long enough to implement these “guard rails” before the Waltons called him home to the Walmart home office as Lead Counsel – Appellate. https://twitter.com/chadpekron/status/1233402726832316421?s=21

This is not democracy. This is colonialism.

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