The Arkansas Public Policy Panel announces a “teach-in” on public education in Little Rock from 6 to 8 p.m.. tonight at St. Mark Baptist Church, 5722 W. 12th St.
Jitu Brown, national director of Journey for Justice, will talk about state takeovers and privatization of public schools elsewhere in the U.S. and grassroots opposition to such movements. The Walton Family Foundation pushed for legislation in 2015 that would have allowed the state takeover of Little Rock schools for management by private corporations, but a coalition of groups blocked the bill. The Foundation has continued to be a primary backer of lobbyists and others working to push any many children in Little Rock into charter schools as possible.
At the meeting tonight, participants can talk about the experience in Little Rock under state control. The state Education Department has resisted communication with residents about decision-making. The current superintendent, Baker Kurrus, has worked in the community, but he’s been fired by Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s education director, Johnny Key, a former senator with no previous experience or training in education administration.
A coalition of groups is sponsoring tonight’s meeting in hopes of continuing organization of a student, parent and community group to lead to a return of local control, with an elected school board as most of the state enjoys.