Good report from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on another appearance by the Haas Hall charter school before the state Board of Education on its distinct lack of diversity among students. Even Education Commissioner Johnny Key has been seemingly forced to acknowledge that it is not so hard to achieve high results with higher income white kids from families pointed toward academic achievement.

Haas Hall has four campuses and more than 1,300 students. In Rogers, it has a 13 percent Latino enrollment while the area stands at 45 percent. It has a grand total of two — 2 — special ed students. It has 23 black students. It has 159 Latino students. I have no figures on enrollment at Haas Hall that qualifies for a free or subsidized school lunch program because the school doesn’t participate in the school lunch program. That and other expenses, plus transportation, could discourage attendance by poor students.

Haas Hall being a charter school that enjoys financial help from the Walton Family Foundation, Key was of course solicitous. From the D-G:

Education Commissioner Johnny Key acknowledged Haas Hall is getting good results from its students, but added, “We want you to show us that you can do this for all kids.”

Key offered Haas Hall the department’s help in showing the school can produce the same results “no matter which kids are coming,” he said.

Martin Schoppmeyer, head of the school (and incidentally a foe as a Fayetteville Council member of the ordinance to discourage discrimination against LGBT people), said he was open to working on diversity. Promises, promises.

Advertisement

Board member Fitz Hill was sharper about Haas’  failure at diversity over its 15 years of existence. He reportedly criticized the school for not pinpointing when it intends to accomplish objectives.

Hill also questioned who is helping the school devise its strategies and what their qualifications are. He recommended the school get someone who can build relationships with the community.

“Unless I’m missing something, I don’t think you have those individuals. And until you do, I can’t accept what you’re doing,” Hill said.

Expecting the state Board to DO something about Haas Hall, rather than just talk, is not advised. For one thing, it is a charter school. For another, the Board has too much to do what with jacking around the overwhelmingly minority (19 percent white) and poor (72 percent eligible for school lunch) Little Rock School District. A handful of its schools seem likely to fall short on a single high-stakes test despite almost five years under the Johnny Key School Board. There is “reconstituting” to be done. I bet Schoppmeyer would be happy to operate Roberts Elementary.

Schoppmeyer has promised Haas is going to recruit, increase its presence at “multicultural events” and otherwise target blacks and Latinos. Hmmm. Maybe LRSD needs a plan to set up recruiting booths at country clubs and WLR megachurches to diversify its white, middle-class enrollment.

PS: Sure would like to see this D-G article run in the Little Rock edition.