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While Status Quo Cries 'Racists,' Its Fight Against School Choice Hurts African-Americans Most

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Updated: Thursday, August 31, 2017

"When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser." - Socrates

The status quo is quick to label most anything School Choice as "racist." In fact, almost everything with which the status quo disagrees, particularly in regard to the Little Rock School District, receives the dreaded "R" label.

And yet, the status quo's tacit acceptance of Jerry Guess/John Walker-imposed conditions in the 2014 Desegregation Settlement Agreement and its ongoing irrational fight against anything charter has had a far greater detrimental impact on African-American students and families than their White counterparts.

What about Hispanic (14% of LRSD) or Other (4%) students? In the status quo's LRSD, all that matters is Black (64%) and White (18%).

So, here are the facts regarding...

African-American School Choice in Little Rock

School Year Non-resident Black
Students Choosing LRSD
Black Students
as % of LRSD Choice
Black Students
Choosing Charters
Black Students
as % of Charter Choice
2004-05 58 95% 85 52%
2005-06 58 97% 72 24%
2006-07 43 100% 101 28%
2007-08 43 91% 342 52%
2008-09 420 91% 981 57%
2009-10 1,197 76% 1,046 55%
2010-11 1,399 76% 1,524 59%
2011-12 1,474 78% 1,581 55%
2012-13 1,419 78% 1,646 55%
2013-14 1,373 80% 1,606 54%
2014-15 114 63% 1,787 53%
2015-16 113 65% 1,998 53%
2016-17 125 65% 2,243 53%

 

Get the picture? Limitations on School Choice have had and continue to have a devastating impact on African-American students, both in numbers and percentages.

What happened in 2014-15? In the Desegregation Settlement Agreement, John Walker and Jerry Guess imposed a 30-student annual limit on School Choice from and to the Pulaski County Special School District. North Little Rock, Little Rock, and the State were apparently so anxious to complete a settlement, they agreed. So, the attorney supposedly representing the best interests of African-American students and the superintendent of the whitest district in the county ended inter-district School Choice, the beneficiaries of which were mostly African-Americans and the Little Rock School District.

In just one year, African-American choice into the Little Rock School District dropped 1,259 students. In status quo terms, that's $8,435,300 in annual State foundation funding. And yet, there was not a peep out of the status quo. There will be those who claim that Choice was ended because the State no longer paid for it. But the State's non-restricted desegregation payments to the districts don't stop until the end of this school year, four years after Choice was halted.

So, let's have a real conversation about race.

  • Total African-American Choice enrollment in Pulaski County South of the Arkansas River (2,368) would rank as the 50th largest school district in Arkansas (out of 269 districts, charters).
  • Total African-American Charter enrollment in Little Rock (2,243) would rank as the 53rd largest school district in Arkansas
  • In past dozen years, African-American enrollment in Little Rock's open-enrollment public charter schools has grown 2,639%
  • In past dozen years, White enrollment in Little Rock's open-enrollment public charter schools has grown 1,465%
  • In past dozen years, African-American enrollment growth in open-enrollment public charter schools has outpaced White growth nearly two to one 
  • Only 26% (50) of non-resident inter-district School Choice students in the Little Rock School District are White
  • Only 23% (982) of open-enrollment public charter school students in Little Rock are White
  • According to the 2010 census, upon which the latest LRSD board zones were drawn:
    • Total LRSD Population - 178,391
    • White LRSD Population - 84,513 (47%)
    • Black LRSD Population - 78,724 (44%)
    • Hispanic LRSD Population - 12,551 (7%)
    • Other LRSD Population - 2,603 (1.5%)
  • School-age population in Pulaski County South of Arkansas River:
    • Total: 40,609
    • LRSD (56%): 22,759 (18% White)
    • Private (20%): 8,184 (Demographics Unavailable)
    • PCSSD (12%): 4,770 (44% White)
    • Charter (10%): 4,252 (23% White)
    • Home School (2%): 644 (Demographics Unavailable)

The latest unanimously approved open-enrollment public charter applications for Little Rock are projected to open at:

When the status quo fights inter-district school choice and open-enrollment public charter schools under the banner of fighting racism, they are actually fighting choices made by African-American students and families, those long trapped by the tyranny of Choice-exempting school districts and residence-based attendance zones.

Sources:
https://adedatabeta.arkansas.gov
http://www.officeforeducationpolicy.org/arkansas-schools-data-demographics

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