Most government offices will be closed today, but talks will continue between Little Rock School District administrators and the Little Rock Education Association over a contract to replace the teacher agreement that expired Oct. 31.

Education Commissioner Johnny Key, who has controlled the district since state takeover four years ago, rejected the continuation of giving the protection of state law given other teachers of the state when it comes to those working for the 22 schools graded D or F (based mostly on standardized test scores) in LRSD. Some 200 schools statewide fall in this category, including a number of charter schools.

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Key hasn’t targeted any other schools, only Little Rock, seeming to blame teachers for the district’s failure to improve under his leadership. He wants summary firing power, though he has not yet cited a subpar teacher whose firing was blocked by the teacher fair dismissal law.

Time is running out on the two-week contract extension Key granted. The substance of the talks has been kept private. It is still hard to envision an outcome that gives Key the power he wants while giving teachers the fair treatment they want.

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