In an article yesterday, sponsor of HB 1733, Republican Bruce Cozart, said his bill was too broad, and that he had concerns about it when he filed it. He said he wanted to help children in under-served areas but couldn’t get enough input from proponents about how the move would help them. “Nobody would tell me it’s about the kids; it was all about teachers,” Cozart said. “We’ve got to start thinking about our kids.”
We at the OEP observed this from afar; if you read our policy brief on this topic, you will know that we are ambivalent on whether the “Achievement District” strategy was the right move and whether or not it would have led to positive outcomes for kids. However, watching the rallies and the actions from afar, it was hard not to be left with the feeling that this “victory” for public education and local control feels a bit hollow.
While the crowd of supporters at the Capitol had a rally that turned into a victory party, we can’t help but wonder how many of those revelers were students or parents from the struggling schools in Little Rock in which around half of the students cannot meet minimum levels of proficiency. Are these families celebrating now that their schools get to remain exactly as they were before?
Moreover, after reading the comments and news coverage of the opposition to HB 1733, we found a great deal of discussion about which adults controlled which schools and how we could ensure that adult teachers remained in their preferred positions. We found very little discussion about how defeating this bill would improve school experiences, educational achievement, and life outcomes for kids.
Perhaps we can begin to talk about these issues soon??