LRSD School Board Candidates: Lou Jackson, Zone 6
Why are you running for Little Rock School Board?
“I’m a retired educator, I retired June 2020. I would like to continue my work in education, and I do believe that the position that I'm seeking will be a catalyst to help make a change for teaching and learning.”
What experience do you have working in public education?
“I've been a teacher aide, a teacher. I’ve spent most of my career as an administrator. I’ve been a K-12 principal [in the] Wabbaseka-Tucker School District, I worked over special education in the Watson Chapel School District. I worked for the Easterseals Society as an education coordinator, and I’ve been an elementary school principal in the Pulaski County [Special] School District since 2000.”
“I did attend public schools, I’m an advocate for public schools. My children attend public schools here in the Little Rock School District and I have grandchildren also in the public schools.”
What are your main policy goals or things you want to change while in office?
“I believe that the major resources for the Little Rock School District are its employees, and making sure that those employees are trained and have all the supplies, materials and whatever avenues they need… and with the challenges of the pandemic, definitely, we’ll really look at the technology. And facilities will be another priority. I just believe that if we're going to be equitable, then we need to be equitable across the board.”
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?
“We have to look at building trust back with parents and community… I would want to look more closely at the matter, I’ve had one meeting with Superintendent [Mike] Poore and that team to look at the goals and the mission that they have developed, and I would want to start there… I would like to look at the true data, before and after, and I would like to also look at, what did you do within those five or seven years that made an impact? And I would definitely want to hear the community and the parents’ voice.”
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 know if fair would be the word that I would use, and I don’t know if equitable would be the word I would use… when they took over, a lot of things were implemented top-down. Just in my studies of behavior philosophy theory, you really can not have a lot of success with a bureaucratic-type theory of controlling the schools. You have to hear the voice of the people that are really there and really doing the work .... it could have been more successful had the people been trained in whatever you were trying to get them to implement.”
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?
“I look at the restrictions that the state may have on the school board as the state is building the trust that the school board can actually govern the schools and know their role, and it's almost like you want a sustainability of that that is working and you do not want the board to come in and throw everything away… but you have to have that trust, and you have to make sure that those people are trained in all of the components that it takes to be a school board member and to be knowledgeable of the functions of the Little Rock School District.”
How will you handle any disagreements between board members or with the superintendent or the Department of Education?
“I'm a data person. Every decision needs to be based on data. I always tell my faculty, ‘when you come in, that's okay, you can tell me how you feel, you can tell me what you believe, but what does the data say?’ And always ask the question, ‘is it good for students?’ And if it's not good for students, then maybe we need to spend our time on something else.”