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School administrators and the state government demand that education change



Little Rock, Arkansas – Parents like Tristina McJoy are alarmed by the Arkansas Department of Education’s recent low rating of Arkansas schools.

“The state took control because the grades were failing,” McJoy said. “So, I was like, I’m putting my kids across town.”

Over the previous few years, McJoy has attended four different school systems. She now sends her children to schools in the Jacksonville region in the hopes that they would receive a better education that offers more possibilities, programs, and hands-on help.

However, if families like hers want to enroll their child in a school that last year passed the state inspection, their options are restricted.

Two out of every three elementary schools in the Natural State’s metro area scored a D or a failing grade.

School administrators and the state government are pushing for reform as a result of these poor rankings.

“What you do is you work on critical elements of reading, writing, making sure that you have an eligible base curriculum,” Superintendent Dr. Charles McNulty of the Pulaski County Special School District said.

According to McNulty, a school can still improve in other areas even if it receives a failing grade in the state rankings.

“Two schools that are currently failing had outstanding growth with new leadership, and a passionate staff,” McNulty said. “I just left a data meeting, we’re seeing great results this year.”

Not only do individual school districts talk about solutions, but others as well. The state’s leadership also wants things to become better.

“As expected, this year’s reports do not reflect a complete recovery from the pandemic’s effect on student learning,” Education Secretary Johnny Key said. “However, the results do reflect a rebound from the previous year.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the incoming governor of Arkansas who will take office on January 10, is likewise advocating for quicker progress.

“My biggest priority as governor is on education,” Sanders said. “I think it’s the place that we have the greatest ability to lean into and bring generational change to our state.”

All leaders are making these efforts in the expectation of overcoming widespread difficulties.

“I was a principal of a failing school in Illinois and we became a school of excellence,” McNulty said. “I know what it takes to get there and I know how it affects the community.”

And after working to improve her children’s education, McJoy stressed the value of creating a happy home life.

“You need to worry about their mental health and if they’re eating and getting a good night’s sleep,” McJoy said. “What can we do to get that? Because if that changes, maybe they can get some better education.”

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