Worth highlighting is the prepared statement issued today by Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key, who’s failed in running the Little Rock School District for almost five years and whose department came up with the fake local-control plan crammed down the district’s throat by the Asa Hutchinson-controlled state Board of Education at a surprise meeting today.
“Today the State Board of Education took action that is in the best interest of students who attend the Little Rock School District. The board did not make this decision lightly, as evidenced by the countless hours each member spent listening to public feedback, responding to numerous emails, and asking detailed questions. I commend the board for its diligence, for weighing all the facts, and for ultimately making a decision that balances local control and the constitutional responsibility of the state. I stand behind the board’s decision and am committed to implementing this framework with students at the forefront of all future efforts.”
The Board approved a plan that was unannounced and virtually undiscussed as to particulars. The “balance” Key is putting on Little Rock is a “balance” it puts on virtually no one else — outside control of several district schools with taxpayer money, restricted school board control of the district and, coming soon, the busting of the teacher union by the state, not an elected school board.
If facts of this control plan were weighed, they were weighed in illegal round-robin secret meetings between Key and board members before today’s meeting, not in public. The public had no advance preparation and scant opportunity to respond. Board Chair Diane Zook even bucked at hearing from the district superintendent, Mike Poore.
This statement took some brass by a guy who couldn’t be bothered to attend public meetings of the district for which he is the school board.
Whatever is implemented, don’t count on sunshine. In addition to illegal secret meetings, Key’s Education Department failed to meet the law’s requirement on providing public documents. Here’s another worthy FOI: All those private communications Board Chair Diane Zook claims to have received from people saying the people complaining at public meetings or supporting the Little Rock Education Association were full of it. (Besides her nephew and Walton-financed lobbyist Gary Newton, that is.)
They are the enemies of a true public school system in Little Rock.
UPDATE: Gov. Asa Hutchinson added his own special brand of baloney to this charade:
“I applaud the State Board of Education for providing a framework for the election of a Little Rock School Board. This is an important step in the return to local control with continued support from the state. The Board has been attentive to the public meetings on the future of the LRSD and has set forth a framework that puts the children first and gives our students the best opportunity for success in the future.”