Archives for category: Little Rock

I hope you will join me by donating to Bread for Ed, which supports the strike of the teachers in Little Rock.

The Walton-controlled State Board stripped them of their collective bargaining rights.

They are demonstrating for their students, their right to organize, and for democracy.

Grassroots Arkansas reports that the teachers of Little Rock will strike this Thursday. It will be a one-day strike. The State Board of Education (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Walton family) stripped the local union of its collective bargaining rights and is trying to destroy and privatize public education in that city. For the billionaire Waltons, Little Rock is the petri dish that is near at hand. They have so many petri dishes, all of which have failed. Why don’t they leave this small but historic district alone? (Answer: Because the Waltons want everything; having $150 billions has made them willful and arrogant.) The state took control of the district in 2015 and has agreed to return limited control, with a powerless board still controlled by the state.

Little Rock educators have announced a strike this Thursday, November 14, to demand that the state stop its re-segregation plan, return democracy through full local control of the LRSD, and recognize the union’s bargaining rights. Our educators and students need all of us to stand up for them before unlicensed subs and private companies complete the destruction and further segregation of our public education system.

There are several ways that you can support students and teachers. If you are a caregiver, please do whatever you can to keep your students home on Thursday, or send them to one of the childcare sites to be announced soon. The money follows the students, and the only power we have is if the students stay home. If they go to school, they will be babysat by unlicensed subs. Other ways you can support include:

  • Donate and share the Bread for Ed campaign to feed kids while the schools are shut down.

  • Tuesday and Wednesday: Pass out flyers at schools during drop-off and pickup times. Go by the AEA building at 1500 W 4th Street or call them at (501)375-4611 to see which schools most need coverage.

  • Tuesday and Wednesday: 4:00-7:00 Sign making at the AEA building. 1500 W 4th St by the Capitol.

  • Thursday: Picketing at schools from 7-9:30. Picket the State Board of Education meeting at 11:00. Sign up here.

Together, we can reclaim democracy and a world-class education for ALL students!

STRIKE DATE SET IN ARKANSAS: The Little Rock Education Association is calling for one locally elected city school board with full decision-making authority following the state’s takeover of the district in January 2015. The union planned the strike for the day of the next state board of education meeting, when the district is on the agenda.

— The state board last month voted to stop recognizing the union as a bargaining agent for its members. The state board also voted to return control of Little Rock schools to a locally elected school board by 2020, but limited its authority.

— “They specifically stated that the school board, once elected, would not be able to reinstate our recognition, nor would they be able to hire or fire a superintendent and that the commissioner of education would still have veto power over any decisions that the state or that the school board makes,” Knapp Gordon said.

— The announcement said the union is working with #OneLRSD to stop Gov. Asa Hutchinson and his appointed state board from “segregating the city’s public schools.” The board last month backed away from a plan to divide the district under separate governing systems amid complaints that it would segregate the district. But Knapp Gordon said “by retaining control over the district, they still get to make those decisions that will lead to the resegregation of our school district.”

Tim Jackson is a parent with children in the Little Rock School District and an active member of Grassroots Arkansas, which has been fighting for the restoration of democratic control of the LRSD public schools. He is also a film-maker. He attended the state school board meeting that theoretically restored local control.

He wrote this account:

ARKANSAS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING – 10.09.19

Yesterday’s meeting of the Arkansas State Board of Education was another exercise in futility for the true stakeholders in the Little Rock School District. Don’t believe the headlines that local control of the district has been returned or will be retuned anytime soon to an elected school board. All the State Board did yesterday was trash an ill conceived and inequitable framework for reconstituting the district that it announced last month but could not sustain in the face of political and public opinion headwinds.

Board Chairman Diane Zook made it clear – much to the chagrin of Board members who were trying to appear conciliatory – that nothing changed yesterday. And Zook has no intention for things to change until the District is recreated in the image of the prevailing “business knows best” education model that bedevils American public education. As if American public education needed another self-important, self-entitled, shortsighted, external force bedeviling it.

I sat on the front row at yesterday’s meeting for eight hours until I was invited to leave by the Arkansas State Police who were brought in as a show of force by the board. Chairman Zook – whose personal animus toward the Little Rock School District is both unreasonable and inexhaustible – read twice from a prepared statement that anticipated more public outcry to what she knew was coming later in the meeting. We were told yesterday that 1) Police officers would escort anyone who spoke out of turn from the building. 2) Anyone who was escorted from the building yesterday would be banned from speaking in future meetings. 3) The Chairman would decide what constituted out of turn.

One of Ms. Zook’s frequent rebuttals when we cry “taxation without representation” over the State’s heavy-handed and demonstrably underhanded takeover is to remind us that we have a Community Advisory Board. Under the terms of the State takeover the Community Advisory Board of the Little Rock School District has no authority, no public accountability, and members serve solely at the pleasure of the State’s Education Commissioner, Johnny Key – a man so unqualified for the job that the Arkansas Legislature had to reduce the qualifications for the job in order for Governor Asa Hutchinson to appoint him.

An influential member of that Citizens Advisory Board stood in the parking lot of the Arkansas Education Building a month ago and told me that the nine members of the State Board of Education are the Governor’s choice for overseeing public education in Arkansas. This CAB member elaborated that under the Arkansas Constitution those nine appointed people don’t owe the people of Little Rock a vote, a voice, or an explanation for anything they do.I was told that if I didn’t like, I should go change the Arkansas Constitution.

So, that’s our representation. That’s what Diane Zook wants us to feel good about.

The State Board never fails to create chaos at the end of its meetings – at least at meetings in which the Little Rock School District is on the agenda. Yesterday was no exception. In a flurry of confusion and a complete flaunting of acceptable procedure the Board voted 9-0 to cease recognition of the Little Rock Educators Association as the sole contract negotiator for teachers and other full time support staff in the Little Rock School District. The LREA has been under attack since the State takeover and FOIA requests bear out that the Board’s plan for the LREA hasalways been death for the union by a thousand cuts. Yesterday the Board twisted the knife.

This action did not kill the union. But it is another serious attack and clear evidence that Zook and Company do not have a plan for the Little Rock School District but they do have a vision for it. It’s a vision that values the haves and patronizes the have-nots while expanding a privatized system of public education that we will pay for as a society for the next 50 years.

Tim Jackson | tjackson@category-one.com 

Yesterday the Arkansas State Board of Education voted to return control of the Little Rock School District to the people of Little Rock. This followed massive demonstrations and demands by the citizenry. At the same meeting, the board voted unanimously to deny recognition to the Little Rock Educators Association, which represents 60% of the teachers in the district.

Rev/Dr. Anika Whitfield, an activist in Grassroots Arkansas, was outraged by the latter decision. She is a podiatrist and an ordained minister. For her volunteer fight for public schools and democracy, she is one of the heroes in my new book SLAYING GOLIATH.

She wrote the following response to the board’s stripping of the teachers’ right to join as a union.

October 10, 2019 will be a day marked in Arkansas history as the enslavement of LRSD teachers and educators, a day when democracy and liberation was denied to them.
 
The Auditorium in the Arkansas Department of Education was overflowing with concerned community members from the LRSD.  People who took leave from work to lend their voices for a people’s democracy to a nine member board appointed by a republic/empire run by billionaires and millionaires who maintain their wealth primarily from the economy of persons who earn the lowest compensation.  With the help of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the Walton Family Foundation, Stephen’s, Inc. and Walter Hussman have been siphoning money from the people in our state who are the most vulnerable, our children.  And, to add insult to injury, they are targeting our children who primarily come from homes were their families are the lowest income earners in our state. The wealthy are maintaining their riches by stealing from the poor.  This a model of capitalism that traces back to the origins of this nation that we call the United States of America. 
 
Yesterday, we witnessed the nine appointed members of the state board of education unanimously remove the collective bargaining power of teachers and educators.  Their coup of sorts was made deliverable through a myriad of chaotic twists and turns of the worst type of confusion and violations of Robert’s Rules of Order.  And, after reflecting on the manner in which the state board of education directors conducted themselves on yesterday, it has become more evident that their goal was to be deceitful and underhanded, to ward off any opportunities for the public to call their hand and stop their votes. 
 
Dr. Sarah Moore, one of the nine appointed directors of the Arkansas State Board of Education, who worked as a Doctoral Academy Fellow at the Office of Education Policy (funded by the Walton Family Foundation) at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, made the initial motion to no longer recognize the Little Rock Educators Association (LREA) at the end of their call meeting on September 27, 2019. Yesterday, Atty Chad Pekron, who was appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to the state board of education in July 2019, made and rescinded two or three motions to overturn, table, and then to vote on Dr. Moore’s tabled motion from the September 27th meeting.
 
After all of the smoke was clear, and the confusion was never resolved, the public realized that the state board of education voted to unanimously deny the Little Rock school teachers and educators the recognition of their union.  What a sad day in Little Rock and in Arkansas history. Justice, Liberation, Equity and Democracy continue to be lawfully denied by the Empire of the Republic of wealth, greed, and fear that is being unjustifiably marketed as a great America.  

 

The Arkansas State Board of Education planned to restore local control to schools in the whitest part of Little Rock, but the community rose up in opposition and demanded the restoration of the entire district, one Little Rock.

Massive crowds gathered to raise their voices in protest and the state board folded.

THE ARKANSAS STATE Board of Education abandoned its previously adopted plan to relinquish only partial control of Little Rock School District after widespread pushback by thousands of teachers, parents, students and community activists who argued it would have catapulted the city into another era of segregated schools.

Instead, the board voted unanimously Thursday to return control of the entire school district to a locally elected school board under a yet-to-be-agreed-upon memorandum of understanding with the state that will include some continued monitoring of the city’s poorest performing schools.

The decision, prompted by a surprise motion to scrap the previous plan, shocked many gathered at a meeting to protest it who were expecting to face stiff opposition by the governor-appointed board.

Cathy Frye, who has been writing about her experiences inside the shadowy world of school choice in Arkansas, says that the battle is won, but the war is not. 

She says the decision was a tactical retreat by the Waltons. They won’t give up. They want the property.

She writes:

The Arkansas State Board of Education, during what appeared to be a meticulously staged meeting, voted Thursday to return the Little Rock School District to local control. 

This about-face occurred because state leaders and board members feared further public shaming and opted instead for an awkward retreat.

Stakeholders celebrated the vote, only to get a clapback from the state board when it next voted to oust the Little Rock Education Association. (As we all know, Governor Asa Hutchinson and his GOP underlings loathe unions.) 

Remember, the Waltons have invested millions in organizations that lobby specifically for the Arkansas school -“choice” movement. Despite today’s vote to reinstate local control, the Walton Family Foundation will persist in its efforts to dismantle LRSD and other districts that might appeal to charter-school leaders and the private-school crowd.

Again, they don’t just want your students and the funding that follows them. They want your facilities. (More on that below.) 

Right now, given public sentiment, the Waltons will let things quiet down. But you can bet that the various nonprofits that they fund already are stepping up their behind-the-scenes efforts to get their projects back on track. 

It is imperative that the various grassroots organizations involved in fending off the Waltons’ school grabs remain intersectional and vigorous in their efforts to protect their districts, teachers, students, and, again, their buildings. You have won a battle. Not the war.

She offers some concrete advice for the Resistance.

Max Brantley is editor of the Arkansas Times, where he courageously confronts the depredations of the powerful Walton family against the public sector.

In this post, he summarizes the Waltons’ current efforts to take over the Little Rock school district, so they can eliminate public schools and replace them with charters. Any Democrat who thinks that charter schools are “progressive” should visit Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, or any other red state where the billionaires are doing their best to destroy public education.

He begins:

I’ve collected some items today related to the 2019 Little Rock school crisis, in which the Asa Hutchinson administration is attempting to supercharge the agenda of the Billionaire Boys Club, led by the Walton Family Foundation, to end a meaningful Little Rock public school district.

The plan is to continue to build charter schools (lightly regulated private schools operated with public money); to bust the teachers union, and to create a district of haves and have-nots. Under the Hutchinson plan, prosperous neighborhoods would have a semblance, but not complete democratic self-determination in schools. Poor neighborhoods (generally heavily black) would remain under control of a state Board of Education that has failed them miserably in five years as a supervisor.

He cites a post from this blog, describing the federal study of NAEP that concluded that charter schools do NOT outperform public schools.

He notes that even the Walton-funded University of Arkansas Department of Educational Reform acknowledges that test scores are not all that important.

He writes:

You get a district with a high poverty rate and you get lower test scores. Governor Hutchinson wants to punish Little Rock for that, while holding harmless dozens of other schools and districts with similar low scores. Here, they blame the teachers.

He cites Mercedes Schneider’s expose of Oregon-based Stand for Children, which is pouring big money into the Louisiana race for state board of education, and notes that the Waltons are financing their own efforts in Arkansas to undermine the public schools of Little Rock to make it easier to take them over and end public education.

And then he turns to Brett Williamson, a member of the state school board appointed by Governor Asa Hutchinson, who seems to specialize in insulting parents and supporters of public education. Williamson is one of the current crop of Republicans who do not believe in local control, especially for districts enrolling children of color.

Like Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post and Karen Francisco of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Max Brantley is a national treasure who is fearless in confronting the privatization behemoths owned by billionaires.

 

Parents and supporters of public schools in Little Rock are outraged that Governor Asa Hutchinson refuses to meet with them. The state took control of the Little Rock district, and parents want democratic decision making restored. Remember when Republicans used to support local control? Not anymore.

Rev/Dr. Anika Whitfield write to the Governor on behalf of a large coalition of parents.

Gov. Hutchinson, 

 
As you may have heard at our rally on September 25, 2019, to fulfill the legacy of the Little Rock Nine to obtain a world class equitable education for students currently being denied by discrimination and state laws, and to #ReclaimLRSD in total with a locally elected school board, we demanded a meeting with you.
 
The organizers of the Support OUR LRSD coalition, a coalition of parents/guardians, students, alumni, community activists and supporters, faith leaders, volunteers in the LRSD, teachers, educators, retired teachers, and LRSD business leaders and faith leaders and communities need to speak with you about the fate of our beloved LRSD. 
 
You have been talking at us, and not with us. You and your appointed board and commissioner of education have been making decisions that work against our will, decisions and requests. 
 
As our elected Governor, you vowed to serve the entire state. You have not been serving our best interest, because you have not given us the opportunity to meet.  You have not provided us with an opportunity to not only state our case with you face to face, but you have denied us the dignity of being heard by you and your staff on multiple occasions.
 
We are insisting that you meet us on Monday, October 7th or Tuesday, October 8th prior to the Thursday, October 10th State Board of Education meeting.
 
There will be two representatives from each of our coalition groups ready to meet with you.
 
Please have your staff provide me with the date and time you will make yourself available to meet with The People of the LRSD, members of the Support Our LRSD coalition, who are requesting to meet with you.
 
Rev./Dr. Anika T.  Whitfield 
Grassroots Arkansas, co-chair
Support Our LRSD coalition 
By the way, Rev/Dr. Anika Whitfield is featured as a hero of the Resistance in my new book SLAYING GOLIATH, which will be published January 21, 2020.

Dr. Anika Whitfield is a remarkable woman. She is a podiatrist. She is an ordained Baptist minister. She has volunteered as a tutor in the public schools of Little Rock for many years. She is active in Save Our Schools Arkansas and Grassroots Arkansas. She is a fighter for social justice and equity. She wrote the following letter to Johnny Key, who is Commissioner of Education in the state. Key was trained as an engineer and served in the state legislature for a decade. Anyone who cares about the children and schools of Little Rock should listen to Dr. Whitfield. She is a dynamo.

The state took control of the Little Rock School District because six of its 48 schools were low-performing. Instead of helping the schools, the state simply abolished local control. The Walton family plays a large role in the state due to its dominance of the state’s economy and its many political lackies.

Dr. Whitfield wrote:

Commissioner Key,

For two weeks now, the Arkansas State Board of Education has been hosting public meetings to discuss the future of the LRSD. Since the LRSD was taken over by the state on January 28, 2019, you have been serving, by appointment, as our sole board member. Sadly, you have not been present for any of the four meetings that the state board of education has been hosting in the LRSD community. Why is that?

Over the past close to five years now, serving as the sole board member of the LRSD, you have not elected to host one meeting with the LRSD about the state of our district, the exit plan for our district, nor to gain insight from the stakeholders and the persons most impacted by the many decisions you have made regarding the LRSD. Why is that?

When we have called on you over the past four and a half years as community organizers and leaders on behalf of the LRSD community, you have refused to host public meetings about our concerns, the state of our district, and your plans for our district. Your attorneys or staff at the Arkansas Department of Education has responded to me that you are not required by law to host meetings like an elected school board, and that given your responsibilities to the entire state of Arkansas as education commissioner, it is difficult for you to make a commitment to doing so. Why then, don’t you give the LRSD back to a democratically elected board who can commit to serving the LRSD who can meet with the public regularly and provide a plan for restoration of the LRSD?

Some of the highlights you missed by not being present, in the room of public discussion were as follows:

•We believe Governor Hutchinson should replace Mr. Key (you) as commissioner of education because not only has he failed to serve as an effective board member of the LRSD, he has refused to listen to our majority voices that have echoed for close to five years now that we want democracy restored to the LRSD and to our school board.

•It has been evidenced by Mr. Key’s (your) actions that Governor Hutchinson appointed you to fulfill the pleasures of wealthy business owners in Arkansas (the Waltons, Mr. Hussman, and the Stephens) who appear to have made it a part of their business plan to invest in charter schools that generate city, county, state and national funding for their businesses to operate privately off the backs of primarily African American/Black and Latinx students.

•We, the LRSD community, realize that BEFORE the LRSD was taken over for six out of 48 (now only 44 because you have forced the closure of four of our beloved neighborhood schools), the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) as recommended by the state board of education (SBE) and enforced by state law, had been overseeing the six schools that were performing below proficiency according to results from racially and culturally biased standardized tests. Therefore, the state board of education should not have, in good moral conscious, decided for the ADE to take on the responsibility of 42 other schools in the LRSD until they could prove success in helping the six schools overcome the barriers prohibiting proficiency or above outcomes of the students attending these schools.

•We recognize that the absence of a democratically elected school board allows for the management of an over $350 million dollar budget in the hands of one person, Mr. Key (you), who has not been allocating funds in good faith according to the will and the knowledge of the LRSD community as an elected board is required. We want to know where have the city, county, state, federal, and limited and regulated private dollars been allocated, spent, diverted, or unused by the LRSD board (Mr. Key), the ADE, and the LRSD administration?

You missed the opportunity to learn, hear, and discuss with the more than 120 LRSD community members who attended all four of the public meetings held in four different locations in our city.

And, most importantly, you missed, as our sole board member and state commissioner of education, hearing and responding to our (the majority of the LRSD stakeholders who attended the meetings (at Roberts Elementary and St. Mark Baptist Church) list of demands:

1) Immediate return of entire LRSD.

2) Local, democratic board elections Nov. 2019 or reinstatement of last elected board. (You still have time to announce and prepare for Nov. 2019 elections by law. Failing to do so will only further indicate your willful sabotage of the will of The People, the majority of the LRSD stakeholders. )

3) An MOA that the SBE and ADE will commit to doing the LRSD no more harm.

4) Reopening of our neighborhood public schools they closed.

5) Nullification of the current blueprint.

6) Immediate establishment of a LRSD Student Union and Parent Union.

7) Full accounting of all LRSD financials during state control of LRSD; constructive trust with method for LRSD to recoup funds from the State.

8) Same standards for private schools and charter schools as for public schools.

9) Higher qualifications for board members, both state and local/district; including requirement that some board members be certified educators.

10) Evidence-driven programs and solutions in all LRSD schools; examples include the early childhood development program at Rockefeller Elementary and the school-based health program at Stephens Elementary.

11) Make public input more accessible for parents and others responsible for children by providing child care at public meetings.

We expect a public response from you today.

Rev./Dr. Anika T. Whitfield
Grassroots Arkansas, co-chair

Dr. Anika Whitfield, an education activist in LittleRock, Arkansas, wrote an open letter to State Commissioner Johnny Key and the members of the Arkansas State Board of Education. She appeals to their humanity, forgetting for the moment that the state of Arkansas is owned by the Walton Family Foundation:

 

Mr. Key and the Members of the AR State Board of Education,

Students, families, schools, and neighborhoods in the LRSD community are experiencing almost indescribable losses. 
 
We have witnessed significant losses of students to charter and other school districts during your watch, as we have seen many school closures and observed more funding and attention being given to growing charter schools, primarily in and around the LR community.  
 
We have also witnessed an untold account of the number of students who have been transitioned from the LRSD into a prison pipeline. And, to be clear, most of these students are disproportionately African American, Latinx, and students from low income homes and communities. 
 
We know that many of these actions have not occurred haphazardly, unintentionally, nor unnoticed by most, if not all of you.
 
We appeal to your humanity and the spirit in which your position holds, to represent all children and all public schools in our state with equity and without discrimination.  
 
We appeal to you even moreso as your more recent role has been to oversee directly the LRSD since taking over our public school district, January 28, 2019, to provide all of our students with access to meaningful resources and support in order to experience a world class public education.
 
We rightfully hold you accountable for the losses mentioned above.  And, we consider these to be failures as a result of your actions or inactions. 
 
We appeal to you, as you prepare to return the LRSD to the community of LR and to a democratically elected, local, representative board of directors, to provide and allocate the necessary resources to ensure that every Elementary school has a qualified, certified, school counselor that will well serve the students and schools in which they are hired, without demonstrating discrimination and without oppressing the students in which they are agreeing to serve.
 
Looking forward to hearing back from you soon.
 
Sincerely, 
Rev./Dr. Anika T. Whitfield

 

Republicans were once the party that advocated for local control of schools. No longer. Now they support state takeovers. This is the Big Bad Wolf technique.  State Control makes it easier to privatize public schools. No need to listen to parents or communities. No raucous school board meetings. No democracy. State control of schools is autocracy in action.

In Arkansas, a state that is almost wholly owned by one wealthy family, the Little Rock School District wastaken over by the state because six of its 48 schools had low test scores. A Democrat proposedto End State Control after five years. That bill failed. A Republican state legislator has proposed to extend state control to nine years.

The Republican legislator puts the onus on the district for failing to improve while it is under state control. This is whacky. If the district hasn’t improved under state control, it’s the state that has failed, not the district. Why punish the district for the state’s failure? Why not hold the state accountable?

This report was published by the Arkansas Public School Resource Center, without a link.

 

“BY CATHY FRYE
“LITTLE ROCK –  Senator Kim Hammer, R-District 33, on Monday filed a bill that would allow the Arkansas Department of Education and State Board of Education to retain control of public school districts for up to nine years.
”SB668 accomplishes this by letting the State Board grant two 24-month extensions if a district that has been under state control for five years still isn’t meeting expectations.
“The bill appears to be a response to Senator Will Bond’s failed legislation that would have required ADE and the State Board to return school districts to local control within five years of a takeover.
“Bond, D-District 32, testified last week in the Senate Education Committee that the bill would apply to any and all school districts taken over by the state.
“Current law states: “If the public school district has not demonstrated to the State Board and the Department of Education that the public school district meets the criteria to exit Level 5-Intensive Support within five years of the assumption of authority shall annex, consolidate or reconstitute the public school district…”
“Bond’s bill, SB553, proposed another option – returning a district to local control as long as it met certain criteria.
“At that committee meeting, ADE Commissioner Johnny Key contended that approval of the legislation would create an uncertain situation where “we’re back to not knowing,” adding that in the case of the Little Rock School District, which is approaching the 5th anniversary of its takeover, “the exit criteria was recently communicated.”
“Per Bond’s bill, the State Board would be able to return a school district to local control if the following criteria were met:
  • “The public school district has adopted a plan to correct the issue or issues that caused the classification of the public school district as being in need of Level 5-Intensive support; and
  • “All public schools within the public school district that is classified as being in need of Level 5 – Intensive support are making demonstrable progress towards the removal of the Level 5-Intensive support classification; or
  • “The number of public schools that are classified as in need of Level 5 – Intensive support within a public school district has increased while under the authority of the state board.”
“The bill further states: “The state board may promulgate rules to establish regarding the criteria by which a public school district may exit Level 5-Intensive support as established under subdivision (c)(2) of this section.”
“In closing for his bill, Bond asked committee members to think about how their school districts would feel about remaining under state control for more than five years. This isn’t just about Little Rock, he said.
“In the end, the bill failed.
“Hammer’s bill has been referred to the Senate Education Committee and could run as soon as Wednesday. The committee meets at 10 a.m. in Room 207. An agenda has not yet been posted.
“Hammer’s bill still offers the State Board the options of annexation, consolidation or reconstitution of school districts. At the end of five years, the State Board could consider those choices or extend the state takeover by another 24 months. When the two-year extension ends, the bill states, the board would then be allowed to grant a second two-year extension.”
Senator Kim Hammer hates democracy and local control. 
From Wikipedia:

Kim David Hammer is a Missionary Baptist pastor and hospice chaplain in Benton, Arkansas, who is a Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives for District 28 in Saline County near the capital city of Little Rock.

Bentonville is the home base of the Waltons, where most of them attended and graduated from the local PUBLIC schools. The Waltons, having benefitted from their good public education, are now using their multi billion dollar ($150 billion) to destroy public schools across the nation. Ingrates.