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A court battle over school choice transfers continues for four districts in south Arkansas. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has been fighting for the rights of parents to choose what's best for their kids, but for now, at least in several precincts below I-30, the students remain educational hostages.

The 2018 report cards came out in April for Arkansas schools. A brief glance at the school districts involved in this school choice court battle does not inspire confidence. Hope School District has a high school with a D grade. The Junction City School District has an elementary school with a D. Lafayette County School District has an elementary school with an F and a high school with a D. And Camden Fairview School District has three schools with D grades.

All of that data comes from the Arkansas Department of Education Data Center. You can pull any school district's letter grades at https://myschoolinfo.arkansas.gov.

Now consider you're a parent. The Legislature not long ago took action to give you greater choice in what district your kids attends. If the neighborhood school is failing to educate--and failing in its responsibility--then you had options. Why not attend the other school down the road a piece?

But in January, a federal judge issued a ruling preventing kids, actually their families, from participating in the Arkansas School Choice Act, which allows such transfers. Now this state's attorney general is fighting, rightly so, to get that ruling overturned in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

Here's hoping Leslie Rutledge's office is successful. There are a lot of households in Hope, Junction City, and Camden that hope Leslie Rutledge's office is successful, too.

If local schools are failing, students should have the opportunity to go elsewhere. It's compassionate, it's humane, it's the law. What the latest ruling does is essentially tell these children "Sorry, you have to go down with the ship." It sacrifices their educational future for the benefit of the failing school district.

Attorneys for the four school districts have made the argument that allowing kids to transfer out into more successful school districts will result in "white flight," resurrecting desegregation challenges from the past. But that shouldn't be the problem of parents who are just trying to get their kids a better education. Or at least a minimal one.

Here's a solution: If the districts fix their schools, parents won't want to transfer their children.

But keeping students chained to failing schools is exactly the wrong solution. The attorneys for the state are going deep into the legal weeds to make their case before the 8th Circuit. For those interested in those arguments, see Thursday's front page story by Cynthia Howell.

As deep and thick as those weeds are, we hope those arguments are convincing enough for certain judges in St. Louis. The education--the futures--of hundreds of children in Arkansas hang in the balance.

Editorial on 05/13/2019

Print Headline: Education's hostages

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Comments

  • 23cal
    May 13, 2019 at 7:56 a.m.

    About "If the neighborhood school is failing to educate....." then fix the chool so ALL the students can get a better education, not just the few in a position to flee.
    *
    About "If local schools are failing, students should have the opportunity to go elsewhere." No. Fix the chool so ALL the students can get a better education, not just the few in a position to flee.
    *
    About "It sacrifices their educational future for the benefit of the failing school district." Fix the school district instead of sacrificing the educational future of the majority who are unable to flee.
    *
    About "Here's a solution: If the districts fix their schools, parents won't want to transfer their children." That's right. Deep-six the crap and white flight excuses. Fix the schools.
    *
    About "But keeping students chained to failing schools is exactly the wrong solution." No. Allowing the privileged to flee and keeping all others chained to failing schools is exactly the wrong solution.
    *
    About "Sorry, you have to go down with the ship." Fix the ship and no one has to go down instead of saving the privileged few while the underprivileged majority drowns.
    *
    About "There are a lot of households in Hope, Junction City, and Camden that hope Leslie Rutledge's office is successful, too." There are whole lot more hoping the schools get fixed so EVERYONE benefits, not just the privileged few in a position to flee if Rutledge is successful.

  • GeneralMac
    May 13, 2019 at 9:22 a.m.

    Hope Arkansas.......

    Wasn't it a short time ago that this very paper was singing the praises of all the people who were soooo important that came from Hope Arkansas?

    Seems a filthy rich ex -president could help with advice and a donation $$$$$$$$$$$

    Hope Arkansas has now made the list of many...."worst 10 towns in Arkansas"..and when your high school gets a D rating it doesn't surprise.

    There are small school districts in north Arkansas that have a very low median family income but BOTH their elementary and high schools get an A rating year after year.

    Has any of Hope's school administrators asked " why" ?

    Have any of Hope's school administrators taken a trip north to see what they are doing that is successful in a low income area?

    Has 23Cal pondered this instead of shootinmg his mouth off or does 23 Cal think any comparison between high achieving schools and failing schools "racism"?

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