“The most callused aspect of the current education monopoly in Arkansas is that it willingly and deliberately forces children–except those whose parents have wealth–to attend bad schools.” Policy Foundation report,1 September 1998


(January 2017) School choice and charter schools continue to advance since the Little Rock School District was taken over by the state two years ago for academic distress. The Succeed Scholarship Program was created by the state legislature and it’s probable another tax credit or voucher program will be established in this year’s session.  Student demand is so great there are nine open-enrollment charter school systems operating in Little Rock, according to the state Department of Education.2


School choice and charters should continue to advance in 2017.  Critics have condemned the state takeover and attacked education reforms but offer little in the form of credible policy alternatives.


The Policy Foundation has maintained an interest in education reform since its founding 22 years ago. The Foundation published the first Arkansas study calling for charters in 1996.3  The Foundation also called attention to Little Rock’s serious academic and fiscal issues in a 1999 study.4  The critics who disputed there was a problem in Little Rock continue their opposition to choice and charters.  They ignore the parents, guardians and students who support these ideas.


School choice and charters should expand in Little Rock–for the students.


1  Arkansas’ Public Schools: A Thirty Year $20 Billion Taxpayer Investment Yields An Unprecedented Crisis in Academic Performance.” The study is dedicated to the late Karen L. Henry (1951-1998), who was a Policy Foundation board member.

2  Covenant Keepers College Preparatory Charter School; e-STEM Public Charter School; Exalt Academy of Southwest Little Rock; LISA Academy; Little Rock Preparatory Academy; Premier High School; Quest Academy; Rockbridge Montessori School; SIA Tech Little Rock.

3  Allyson Tucker and Donna Watson. Arkansas’ Weak Charter School Law: Failing The Grade.

4 A Performance Analysis of the Little Rock School District: Ten years of rising revenues and declining student academic achievement.  The study is posted at: www.arkansaspolicyfoundation.org