Little Rock Teachers Union Says It Will Hold A One-Day Strike

Nov 11, 2019

Teresa Knapp Gordon (center), president of the Little Rock Education Association, telling reporters Monday that the union is calling for a one-day strike on Thursday.
Credit Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Arkansas's State Board of Education will be discussing a memorandum of understanding regarding control of the Little Rock School District on Thursday. On that same day, members of the Little Rock Education Association, and the coalition #OneLRSD have planned a one-day strike.

Teresa Knapp Gordon, president of the teachers' union, said state officials have ignored previous requests that control of the district be in the hands of a locally elected school board.

"I just want the public to understand that, as educators we would much rather be in our classrooms, not on a picket line," Gordon said, standing outside the Central High School National Historic Site. "But we feel that we have a moral imperative to protect our students. We will do whatever is necessary to do that."

Dianne Curry, formerly on the Little Rock School Board, is now president of the Little Rock Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Curry said the proposal outlined in the memorandum amounts to a resegregation of public schools in the district.

Curry said, "When we look at this district as being a majority minority district, which it is, the kids that have been underserved are a lot in our communities of poverty."

The strike is expected to include parents, teachers and students. Wendy Sheridan says her two children, both students at Williams Magnet Elementary, will be on the picket line Thursday morning.

"First and foremost we are trying to encourage every parent, if you are at all able to, to keep your kid home. If you can’t stay home, if you don't have a family member or that's not option for you, the community is working on safe sites for students that will need a place to be with certified personnel there, as well as a meal," Sheridan said.

The embattled school district has been controlled by the state since 2015.