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Open-enrollment with Transportation - Traditional and Charter - Can Bring True Adequacy, Equity to Public Schools

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Of 42 Little Rock School District (LRSD) schools reporting demographic information, 22 (over half) would be considered "racially identifiable,” with over 70% of students from one race. Six should essentially be considered one race schools, with over 90% from a single demographic. Source: http://www.officeforeducationpolicy.org/arkansas-schools-data-demographics

  • Bale (72% Black)
  • Brady (78% Black)
  • Cloverdale (74% Black)
  • Dunbar Magnet (85% Black)
  • Forest Park (74% White)
  • Franklin (90% Black)
  • Geyer Springs Gifted & Talented Academy (79% Black)
  • Hall (71% Black)
  • Henderson (81% Black)
  • Fair (87% Black)
  • Jefferson (70% White)
  • King (95% Black)
  • Mabelvale Elementary (72% Black)
  • Mabelvale Middle (80% Black)
  • McClellan (90% Black)
  • McDermott (77% Black)
  • Meadowcliff (78% Black)
  • Rockefeller (91% Black)
  • Romine (81% Black)
  • Stephens (92% Black)
  • Washington Magnet (93% Black)
  • Western Hills (72% Black)

Contrast those with the District’s Magnet, Specialty Schools, which selectively admit:

  • Central (57% Black)
  • Forest Heights STEM (57% Black)
  • Gibbs Magnet (53% Black)
  • Mann (58% Black)
  • Parkview Magnet (55% Black)
  • Williams Magnet (57% Black)

The public school(s) in the Little Rock School District footprint which most closely reflect the demographics of the City of Little Rock (not the failed demographics of the District) are eStem's. That’s the direct result of open-enrollment and non-selective admission.

eStem Demographics

  • 32% FRL
  • 41% White
  • 46% Black
  • 6% Hispanic
  • 7% Other

City of Little Rock Demographics (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/05/0541000.html)

  • 19% Below Poverty Index
  • 47% White
  • 42% Black
  • 7% Hispanic
  • 4% Other

LRSD Demographics

  • 75% FRL
  • 18% White
  • 66% Black
  • 13% Hispanic
  • 4% Other

That’s what $1.04 Billion to supposedly remedy LRSD segregation will get you. Note that while Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL) is the public school euphemism for poverty, the percentage below the actual Poverty Index in Little Rock is 19% compared to 75% FRL in the District. For comparison, 20% live below the Poverty Index in Arkansas, but 61% of all public school students qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch.

Just yesterday (September 15, 2015), a report was presented to the House, Senate Committees on Education saying that $1 Billion in additional NSLA funding (based on Free and Reduced Lunch population) has shown no significant results in narrowing the achievement gap or improving the scores of low-income students. 

In my view, the quickest way to remedy the District’s self-imposed Balkanization and bring true adequacy/equity would be to 1) close/convert/construct schools relevant to the population; 2) use independent demographer (Metroplan) to narrowly draw shadow/attendance zones and enforce residency; 3) make all LRSD schools with capacity open-enrollment with transportation (District and/or Rock Region Metro); and 4) contract with open-enrollment charters to provide transportation (currently $321 State funding per student).

Above all, the priority should be individual students, not collective delivery systems.

 

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