In something of a surprise, the Senate narrowly defeated SB 668 by Sen. Kim Hammer to allow the state to control school districts in academic distress for up to nine years.
The bill is about Little Rock, whose five-year state takeover is about to expire and Hammer, a Benton Republican, would allow the state four more years of control. He depicted the bill as a way to give a team making progress to stay in place as long as necessary to complete the job.
The vote was 16-15, with two voting
Chesterfield noted that academic distress affects only districts with
“It takes a couple of years to understand a test,” she said.
Now, said Chesterfield, “you’re going to keep people for nine years without knowing who your school board is.”
Under state control, Education Commissioner Johnny Key is the school board, she said.
Senators from Little Rock objected, led by a passionate speech by Sen. Linda SB 668
“Try to be the parent getting through to the commissioner of education to talk about a local school board matter. You have no say over the superintendent. All you do is pay the money. And if you don’t like what’s going on, that’s just too bad because people don’t have to respond to you.”
Chesterfield said other legislators would fire a superintendent or vote for
She said the people at the state Education Department don’t have to pay attention “and they don’t.” She also said the playing field wasn’t level. Other districts with a higher percentage of underperforming students aren’t being taken over, she said. “It’s not fair. It’s unethical. And it’s unnecessary.”
Sen. Will Bond (D-Little Rock) noted the bill not only allowed four more years of control,
“Why would we want taxation without representation? This bill is about Little Rock. That’s what it’s really about. They are on the track and they are making progress. What if it was your district? You’d want it back.”
PS: This may prove a pyrrhic victory for the Little Rock School District. It would be a miracle if every one of the district’s schools