Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Civil War in Corning Over Consolidation

By Debbie Pelley (click time below for article, click "comments" to add comment).


Blogger Debbie Pelley said...

Educational Reforms Civil War

School Board Meeting Jan 9, 05

Remember when education and the little red school house were the glue that held the communities together, bringing unity and well being to our entire nation – making it possible for the United States to become the greatest nation on earth.

Compare that to the present when educational reforms have brought bitter divisiveness to our state, literally to Civil War - brother against brother. Two brothers, a superintendent and a mayor, both from Biggers-Reyno publicly battled today as they both petitioned the State School Board. The superintendent of Corning (former superintendent of Biggers-Reyno) petitioned the board to close campuses at Biggers Reyno K-12, and the mayor, his brother, petitioned the Board to keep the campuses open. This battle in the community has become so acrimonious that the Mayor, opposing the consolidation measure, presented the state board statements from parents of 100 students saying they would never send their children to Corning if their school was closed but would find another school or another way to educate them. That would cost the Corning District 540,000 dollars a year.

Although the brothers were very respectful in their presentations, using humor to cover the tension, it doesn’t take much imagination to visualize the pain and anguish this community and family have endured – the same pain and acrimony repeated in at least 28 other communities where campuses have been closed. The students in one area will be riding the bus 80 miles a day, and another area will be riding 70 miles a day to and from school as a result of the closure today of the isolated school district, Biggers Reyno. In another closure of isolated schools today permitted by the State School Board, Alread and Scotland, kindergarten students will be riding the bus three hours a day on dangerous curving roads, catching the bus before dawn and getting home after dark, a 10 ½ hour day. (That would be enough to cause parents anguish and anger.)

In the name of education there have been numerous other divisions and bitter disputes in the state. Administrative bodies are in a battle with the Supreme court judges that borders on a constitutional crisis. There have been countless court battles with approximately one quarter of the school districts having been party to law suits against the State. Small districts have been pitted against larger districts. The school superintendents and teachers and the tyrannical Arkansas Department of Education (which was created and functioned for many years peaceably as an ally, advocate, and defender of the schools) have become arch enemies. The superintendents of small districts have been pitted against the large districts, urban against rural. Angry encounters and bitter disputes have been and are still erupting between teachers and their principals over who is to blame for low scores that put their schools at risk. In one such case teachers were furious because the principal had the audacity to tell a class of students the teachers were at fault for the low scores. Every teacher knows how that damages the students’ respect for the teacher which results in all types of complications.

Whom do we need to toast for this great accomplishment that has brought such peace on earth and good will to man?

· The Arkansas Supreme Court?

· Governor Huckabee who applauded them and implemented as much government control as the court would allow?

· The Blue Ribbon Commission and the Governor’s recommendations that set the stage for the Supreme Court decision?

· The legislators who succumbed to fear, intimidation, and self interest instead of standing up for the children (and the constitution) and bowed to the court’s demands, often using the court decision as the basis to implement their own agendas?

· The State School Board that has let their agenda for consolidation and educational reforms override common sense where the children are concerned, condemning kindergarten students to 10 ½ hour days (7 ½ hrs school day and 3 hour round trip bus rides) in order to accomplish their consolidation agenda?

· The general public who didn’t have the resolve to stand up and throw another Boston tea party thereby abrogating their “unalienable rights” as expressed in the Declaration of Independence to overthrow any government that does not derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed?”

In this writer’s opinion, the responsibility lies with all of them and the greatest responsibility in the order listed. I am not one that advocates, “go along to get along,” but neither do I think such intense divisions and contentions will ever solve problems. When those in authority over the adult citizens use force and coercion to obtain results rather than using leadership, education, and persuasion, the results will be some type of war or battle which will impede progress.

The writers of the Declaration of Independence understood this great truth – that since people are created equal that government derives its “just power from the consent of the governed.” Anything other than that will lead to destruction. That is why consolidation has caused such division; the elitists have taken the consent away from the people and forced their decisions upon them. Don’t we all remember what political system uses that technique or strategy? How could Arkansas fall into such a trap?

On a lighter note (or heavier) I am sure one great Prince, and not the Prince of Peace, has immensely enjoyed the drama and the sadistic humorous events that the most serious of us had to find humorous - like the circus atmosphere in the Lakeview case when the judges had to intervene because dignitaries ( attorneys) were making a scene and interrupting procedures trying to find the briefcase of the Lakeview attorney and demanding the judge to allow a search of it; the scene at the capitol where dignitaries (legislators and attorneys) angrily argued back and forth like children and kept trying to up the other one in finding an appropriate time to insert the phrase, “I thought you were better than that;” the superintendent who left the state and went to Alaska after battling long and hard for his school which was consolidated; the facilities reports where barns were mistaken for school buildings and valued at prices that would have bought the barn and the farm; and today the Mayor’s school district where 100 parents are refusing to send their children to his Superintendent brother’s school.

The brothers made a point to say they were still on good terms and had dinner together this last Sunday – which says a lot for their maturity. Their situation did bring a brief wave of laughter to a very serious situation but at the same time epitomized the extent of the battle and problems brought by the educational reforms in Arkansas. I have heard teachers, principals, and superintendents say they had come to the point in the battle that they didn't want to get out of bed in the morning! Education will never improve until that situation changes.

And remember the admonition, "A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand."

Debbie Pelley

6:21 PM, January 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the local school board is asking that the school be closed is that what you are saying

2:16 PM, January 12, 2006  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

I think what happened is that the state strong-armed Biggers-Reno into an "administrative consolidation". Many assurances have been given by guys like Representative Doug Matayo that these are ONLY administrative consolidations. While that is true in a narrow technical sense, it is still deceptive.

What actually happens is that the larger consolidating school steamrolls right over the smaller community that has been consolidated and turns the consolidation into a PHYSICAL one in which school buildings in the smaller community are abandoned.

This is fair like three wolves and a sheep voting on what is for dinner is fair.

8:59 AM, January 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great site » » »

6:51 PM, February 20, 2007  

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