LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The State Board of Education unanimously passes a motion to put the district on the pathway back to local control.
The board unanimously voted that the Little Rock Education Association will no longer have negotiating power with the Education Commissioner.
The board also voted to re-instate the Fair Dismissal Act for teachers at the Little Rock School District.
The Arkansas Education Association released the following statement after the board’s decisions:
Today, the Arkansas board of education voted to return local control of Little Rock schools to the community, however the Board also approved a measure that attempts to silence educators be eliminating the recognition of their union. The Little Rock Education Association and the Arkansas Education Association distributed the following message to Little Rock educators.Teresa Knapp Gordon Carol B. Fleming
“This afternoon, the state Board of Education made clear their lack of concern for the students, educators and community of Little Rock. Despite overwhelming opposition, the board has decided to use every tool at their disposal to re-segregate our schools and degrade the professionalism of the district’s educators.
“First, you need to know that nothing has changed about your membership in the Little Rock Education Association and the Arkansas Education Association. You are still a member of the largest and most powerful organization fighting for Arkansas students and public schools. For 150 years, our union has fought for students, and as long as children are being educated in our state, that will not change. We have never asked for or needed the blessing of the Governor or the state board to care for our students, and we will continue to fight for them now and going forward.
“You need to know that in the coming weeks and months, you and your colleagues will likely be contacted by organizations from outside our community with misinformation and empty promises about what they can do for you compared to LREA and AEA. You also need to know that these organizations are front groups for the same monied interests that brought us to this point—that pushed the state takeover five years ago, that wrote the segregation plan for LRSD, and that fought to have your unions recognition withdrawn. They do not respect you and they are not concerned with the success of your students. If you receive communication from these groups, please contact LREA and AEA immediately.
“At today’s meeting, the board thrusted our community into a Second Little Rock Segregation Crisis by not only voting to approve Gov. Hutchison’s “separate and unequal” plan for the Little Rock School District, but also to withdraw recognition of LREA as the representative of Little Rock educators despite more than 70 percent of the educators who know the names of our students wanting LREA to represent their collective voice in how our students are educated. This is a naked attempt to silence and threaten educators.
“We want to tell you in explicit terms that their efforts will fail. We know that no matter what is thrown at you, you will never stop fighting for your students. Neither will your union. We will still have staff to guide and represent you as you grow in the profession. We will still provide the best professional development opportunities for our educators. We’re still here to represent you and ensure your rights as an educator are respected. Fighting for the respect you deserve as an educator, we intend to continue to be a voice at the table, whatever that table may look like. None of this will change.
“Lastly, we want you to know that this is not over. As an educator, you know the value of your professional expertise. As your union, we will not lie down as that expertise is disrespected. We will continue to fight for a voice for educators in how students are educated, be it in contract negotiations or in whatever forum decision makers choose. Even if that isn’t at the bargaining table, and we will continue to fight to be at the bargaining table, we fully intend to be your voice when decisions are made regardless of whether we have the “permission” of those who would harm our schools and our students. And we will continue to fight for #OneLRSD with full local control.
“We will take collective action. In the coming days and weeks, you’ll hear more from us about our next steps as a union. We’ll be having conversations with you and your colleagues, and planning out where this fight for our students goes next. We want to personally ask you to be involved in this planning and also discuss with your colleagues and union leadership what your needs are and where we should go from here. There is no stronger voice for students than the voice of educators, and we will not allow our voice to be silenced
President, LREA President, AEA
Our Digital Multimedia Journalist Michael Esparza is attending the State Board of Education meeting and will have continuing updates via Twitter: