The Little Rock Education Association responded sharply last night to state Education Commissioner Johnny Key’s decision to reject a contract agreement with the group so that it will be easier to fire Little Rock School District teachers. “Even murderers receive due process,” the teachers union news release said and hinted at action to come.

Key rejected a negotiated agreement in favor of one that would let him decertify the union as bargaining representative at any time and also allow waiver of the teacher fair dismissal law at any of the 22 schools in the district with D or F scores on the state rating system, based mostly on student scores on standardized tests. The low-scoring schools are populated by poor minority students, including many non-English speakers, groups that typically lag nationally in standardized testing.

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The teachers object that they are being held responsible for low grades in 22 schools though principals at 11 of those schools have not changed in the four years since the state took over the district, a move that made Key the district’s “school board.” The release by president Teresa Knapp Gordon also faulted the state for a lack of assistance in the district while it approved charter schools that drained students and resources.

The teachers also raised the question of where new teachers would come from amid a national teacher shortage if the district embarks on mass firings, without normal due process under the teacher fair dismissal act as Key proposes, for alleged responsibility for low scores in schools with D and F grades. Gordon’s release described emoving teachers as removing the “final obstacle to complete destruction and charterization of LRSD.”

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They should have adopted Donald Trump’s Kavanaugh defense: Johnny Key has held teachers guilty until proven innocent.

The full release.

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