Organizers, volunteers and educators prepare picket signs ahead of teacher strike

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.-On Thursday, Little Rock educators will walk out of the classroom and go on strike.

Their message is clear they want full control over the Little Rock School District and a locally elected school board.

On Tuesday, supporters, volunteers, and organizers spent hours making picket signs ahead of the big day.

This is the second time teachers have walked out of the job in Little Rock history.

One educator says he and countless others are not giving up kids, not give up schools and will not be segregated

“We believe we should stand up for our children and protect public education in Little Rock,” Teresa Knapp Gordon said.

Organizers are preparing for the strike that will take place on Thursday.

“And they have failed our students,” Gordon said.

The state took over LRSD in 2015. In October the Board of Education approved a plan that would establish a 9 member school board for the district with limited authority.

“We want full local control restored to a school board with full decision-making authority,” Gordon said.

The Board of Education also voted to no longer recognize the union when the contracts expired on October 31st.

“it’s disingenuous to take away the voice of the educators who serve those students every single day,” Gordon said.

Now supporters, teachers and people say they’ve had enough.

“We’ve done everything we can over the past 5 years to prevent a day like this from coming,” Roy Vaughn said.

Central High School teacher Roy Vaughn is just one of many people who will be holding up signs and hoping for change.

“This is the only way that we have seen that may help in that fight,” Vaughn said.

A fight that’s lead to protest and countless meetings in the community.

“It’s like we’ve been yelling, yelling and yelling and nobody has been hearing what we had to say,” Vaughn said.

On Thursday hundreds will come together.

“We have one mission and that’s one LRSD,” Vaughn said.

“We will do whatever is necessary,” Gordon said.

Education Commissioner Johnny Key released a statement,

I want to reassure students and parents that the district is prepared for Thursday’s work stoppage. More than enough substitutes, Little Rock School District staff, and ADE staff have passed background checks and are prepared to step in to ensure students receive a quality education. Every school in the district will remain open, buses will run, lunch will be served, and a safe learning environment will be provided. At the end of the day, the students in the Little Rock School District deserve a proper education, and we will be ready to ensure that occurs.

I am deeply disappointed with the Little Rock Education Association’s announcement today about Thursday’s strike. The decision to strike, even for just one day, sends the wrong message to Little Rock School District students, the community, and the state of Arkansas. LREA leadership refuses to acknowledge that everything they are asking for may be obtained when the district is no longer in need of Level 5 support. When the need for Level 5 support no longer exists, the local board that will be elected in November 2020 will have full authority to consider their demands. In order to exit Level 5 support, however, students need high-quality educational instruction and support. They can best receive that from the educators who have been hired to do so.

Arkansas Department of Education
Secretary Johnny Key

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