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LRSD School Board Candidates: Evelyn Hemphill Callaway, Zone 3

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Why are you running for Little Rock School Board?

“My mother was a teacher, my sister was a teacher and several of my cousins were teachers, so education is important to me. I retired from the Little Rock School District in 2014, and I really wanted to start doing something within the teaching spectrum again.”

“The reason why I am running is because I care about children, and with the grades and the reading scores that we’ve had have been really distressing. And so I decided that I wanted to run to be a part of the solution.”

What experience do you have working in public education?

“I started teaching in 1973… I started working at Little Rock Central in 1976. I stayed there for eight years, worked at Henderson Junior High School at the time for two years and then I went back to high school. I taught at Parkview before it was a magnet school for three years… and the rest of my time I spent at J.A. Fair. I went there in 1989 and I was there for about 25 years.”

What are your main policy goals or things you want to change while in office?

“I want vocational, career and technical education completely put back into the middle schools; that means family and consumer science, the business courses. They do have some career education courses, but they eliminated a lot of the family and consumer science courses… where we taught you how to do your budget and how to write a check. It wasn’t just sewing, it wasn't just cooking.”

“I would also like to see neighborhood schools come back… they need to have elementary schools at least from pre-K through third grade. I think when you go any higher than that and have preschool through eighth grade… that makes me kind of nervous.”

How has the LRSD fared the past five years without a locally-elected school board? How would you re-introduce the concept of a school board?

“Once we go in and we see everything that’s being done, I think that we should be able to work with the school district to implement programs. Now the programs that they have right now, from what I can see, are programs that were handed down by the state. Each district and each public schools or whatever, they’re different. And in that they're different we don't all need the same thing.”

Do you think the state takeover of the LRSD in 2015 was fair? What would you do to make sure that wouldn’t happen again?

“I don't think it was fair. I don't, because you can't have one person just make all the decisions. I kind of had a problem with that. And in recent times, in the hiring practices, I’ve noticed that they've brought a lot of people in from out-of-state. And I thought that we had talent here, so why are we bringing people from out-of-state into a district that is 80% minority?”

What can and can’t you do as a LRSD school board member under the state guidelines? Are you worried the public’s expectations will be more than what you can actually do?

“The restrictions that we have? Of course. We can't hire and fire a superintendent and we cannot have a union organization or professional organization be representing the teachers. I think that as educators, as people who have education as far as the majority of us have, we ought to have a right to say what's going on in our lives.”

How will you handle any disagreements between board members or with the superintendent or the Department of Education?

“Everybody has a different personality, I’d have to make that assessment first. And I would definitely speak what I meant, and I would want it to be taken seriously. Everybody's not going to get along, that’s just a fact. But we can agree to disagree on some things.”