Meeting Held Between Legislators and School Administrators

January 17, 2006 --  Posted at 6:00 p.m. CST


WALNUT RIDGE, AR -- School administrators, teachers, and some Arkansas legislators are teaming up to decide what the best options are for students in Region 8.  The state Supreme Court has twice ruled that educational funding in the state was inadequate.


Legislators and school administrators are trying to come up with a strategy to improve education in Arkansas schools.


“The more we learn from the teachers and the superintendents and the principals the better we're going to be when we make the decision of what needs to be done,” said State Representative JR Rogers.


State representative JR Rogers says he and other legislators know exactly what needs to be done to accomplish their goal.


“We need to get the input of the superintendents and the principals because they're the ones at the grass roots and they know what's going on,” said Rogers.


“We might make the teaching environment and the learning environment in a classroom better for our children as a result of the ideas that are being shared here this morning,” said State Senator Paul Miller.


Charles Lee is the principal of the Walnut Ridge High School, “It establishes a line of communication.  I mean, they're passing laws that we have to implement in our schools.”


And those laws are getting harder and harder to implement because of what is expected of students.


“You have a cookie cutter mold for all schools and all children have different abilities and I think we need to look at individual abilities instead of saying that everyone is going to perform at the same level at the same time,” said Lee.


It's hard to have students that are high achievers if you don't have teachers of the same caliber.  So there are plans in the works to make our state more attractive to those teachers.


“If we're going to attract and get higher qualified people to go into the teaching profession we're going to have to get the pay level up for our teachers,” said Rogers.


In an upcoming special session of the legislature, health benefits for teachers will be discussed.


“We're going to have to do something to retain and keep those teachers here so we can hopefully increase our student performance,” said Lee.


But the increasing amount of testing may not be the best solution, “I really believe there's too much testing... we need to leave that to the teachers,” said Rogers.


“As teachers and educators we have to know where our children are and we have to make sure that we intervene and intervene early if we see that they're falling astray,” said literacy specialist Sharon Gates.