Reverend Anika Whitfield wrote an open letter to Arkansas’s State Commisioner of Education, its Governor, and the City Superintendent, complaining about the state takeover of the Little Rock School District. This has long been a goal of the Walton family, the richest, most powerful family in the state and in the nation.

She writes:

Superintendent Poore and Commissioner Key (with a copy to Governor Hutchinson),

How are you able to live with what appears to be placing a hit on the lives of over 17,000 innocent students in the LRSD?

What appears to be your willful cooperation with political and philanthropic interest groups to violate the most vulnerable children in our city by closing their schools; selling (without our permission) their community schools to private charter businesses and to governmental programs that are run by officials who have benefited from a prison industrial system that profits off of incarcerating the lives of many of these same students, is unfathomable.

What does it profit you to watch innocent children suffer at your own hands?

What do you gain by taking away resources from children, families, and educators?

How many families and communities must destroyed before you have seen enough?

Are there any valid examples of affluent neighborhoods and communities that you have imposed your power to take over their children and absolve their patriotic rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

What wealthy communities have you tried to force, without the will of the people, to accept a subservient educational business model for educators and students while imposing legalized disenfranchisement of their wealthy parents?

What truthful evidence can you provide that school closures, increasing class sizes, creating job losses by merging schools, and re-segregating communities, has proven to be a successful model in strengthening those same communities?

The plans that were laid out today for the LRSD showed ample evidence that your jobs have been, as has been suspected and predicted since your unorthodox appointments, a political and economic bidding to make wealthy investors like the Walton Family Foundation, Stephen’s, Inc. and others, to gain more wealt by privatizatizing public institutions and disenfranchising persons primarily impacted by poverty and systemic racism.

We have attended your previous school forums in large numbers. We have participated with consistent and persistent voices our opinions and desires to regain locally, elected, representation by our peers.

We have made clear our desires to keep all of our schools open, to raise community economic support for all of the schools and, particularly students, in the LRSD so that all students are attending classes and schools that are excellent.

We have provided plans, options and opportunities to work with you to keep schools open, and to improve the overall moral in schools by creating more community support and developing public accountability.

Yet, despite our active participation in your created system of governance, you have repeatedly denied all of our requests.

What will it will take for you to stop disrespecting and disregarding the voices and presence of our LRSD children, their parents, community?

What is the ransom you require to return our district back into the hands of the LRSD community?

Rev. Anika T. Whitfield