University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Little Rock Desegregation Funding Update

In AR Legislature on July 6, 2011 at 4:16 pm

If you feel a little confused as to what is going with the desegregation funding in the three Pulaski County School Districts, join the club. On May 19, U.S. District Judge Brian S. Miller released the state from the majority of its financial responsibility in the 1989 desegregation settlement agreement. Since that time, there have been numerous appeals, a state takeover of one of the schools involved in the case, and a recusal from the case by Judge Miller.

In this post, we wade through the murky waters of the Little Rock Desegregation Case.

  • March 1989: This archived article published in the New York Times highlights the original agreement in the Little Rock de-seg case. According to the Times, the State of Arkansas was to pay $104 million over the next 10 years (read: until 1999) to finance education programs that would “overcome the effects of illegal segregation”. This from the Times:
  • According to the newspaper accounts, the settlement calls for these things:

* The state to pay the Little Rock district $59.1 million over 10 years for compensatory education programs, plus other desegregation expenses, and the North Little Rock district $2.7 million in seven annual payments.

* The state to pay the Pulaski County district as much as $16 million over five years.

* The state to block construction of any school in a county bordering Pulaski County if the new school would hurt desegregation of schools in Pulaski County.

Fast forward 20+years:

The problem with this process is that it results in an absurd outcome in which the districts are rewarded with extra money from the state if they fail to comply with their desegregation plans and they face having their funds cut by the state if they act in good faith and comply.” 
It seems that the State of Arkansas is using a carrot and stick approach with these districts but that the districts are wise mules that have learned how to eat the carrot and sit down on the job…The time has finally come for all carrots to be put away. These mules must either pull their proverbial carts on their own or face a very heavy and punitive stick”
From the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, “It appeared to him that few if any of the participants in the case “have any clue how to effectively educate underprivileged black children.” He said some participants seem to believe there is a “magic spell that will do the trick, such as some special racially based formula or program. “Even more concerning, however, is that it seems that some of the participants do not really care… “
Until the 12th, no other rulings will be made. We’ll keep you updated as we hear them.
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