Deja 1957 vu all over again. The Arkansas establishment, in the person of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, has organized to beat up on the Little Rock School District. The district’s sin: Seeking to hold the state of Arkansas to its court promise not to contribute to desegregation in the Little Rock School District.

The Chamber has started an advocacy group, Speak up for Schools, to carry this message. Who’s paying? Will they disclose? I’m guessing no. Citizens United will shield the corporate money, but you can figure where it’s coming from.

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Background: The state — under the thrall of Walton, Hussman, Murphy, Stephens and other big money influences — has decided that unlimited charter schools are the solution to education needs, particularly in the Little Rock School District, because, you see, it is one of the handful in the state with a unionized workforce. They don’t care that not a single national study yet has proved the efficacy of charter schools over conventional public schooling. They don’t care how underqualified the applicants for charters in Pulaski County might be. They just want charters dealt out like playing cards. The advocates of this strategy will rig and misrepresent test results, using the megaphone of the Democrat-Gazette editorial page, to get the job done. (Such as by having you believe a majority white/majority middle income charter school’s test scores can somehow be compared straight up to a majority black, impoverished school population. Such as by having you believe majority white charter schools full of already achieving middle income middle school kids haven’t contributed to the plummeting white population of magnet middle schools.)

The chamber talks mostly in code. It has characterized the Little Rock School District’s filing over state charter practices as a grab for more money in the letter you’ll see on the jump. That’s a gross mischaracterization of the legal action, but the chamber knows its messaging and its audience. Its members will gladly believe any calumny about the majority black-populated, majority black-led LRSD, particularly since many of these leaders have never set foot in these public schools.

Chamber CEO Randy Zook’s
letter to “community leaders” and “education advocates” is on the jump. I consider myself an education advocate, but I wasn’t on the mailing list. I bet the AEA wasn’t either.

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The Chamber’s new advocacy group Speak Up for Schools, is nothing but a thinly disguised charter school advocacy group. Reads one headline:

Little Rock School District: A Wasted Investment.

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As a parent of two successful LRSD graduates, you’ll pardon me if I don’t see it through quite the same prism. I suspect I can find a few tens of thousands of others who feel similarly, whatever the manifest needs for improvement in the district continue to be. (And you won’t find anyone who’s written more — including recently — about some of those shortcomings, including in leadership.)

The chamber has essentially declared war on the Little Rock School District. It will reap the whirlwind.