Desegregation Payments to End in Little Rock Schools

By Chris Hoenig

More than 50 years after the Little Rock Nine started the desegregation process, three school districts in the Little Rock area will stop receiving state funds to aid in the efforts.

The Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special districts have been receiving payments since 1989 to transport students between districts, trying to prevent any one race from being an overwhelming majority within them. The money, totaling more than $1 billion dollars above their regular state education allocations in the past two-plus decades, has also been used to open magnet schools in the three districts.

The funding began after a 1982 lawsuit that accused the state, North Little Rock schools and the Pulaski County district of having policies that essentially resegregated schools throughout the county by race. A settlement was reached in 1989 that called for the state to pay to bus students from districts where they’d be in the majority to districts where they would not, and vice versa.

The state has been trying to end the payments for years. In 2011, federal judge Brian Miller tried to stop the funding, accusing the state of using a carrot-and-stick approach that the schools had taken advantage of by trying to “eat the carrot and sit down on the job,” and by not doing everything they could to desegregate the schools. But the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that none of the main parties in the settlement—the state, the districts or the schoolchildren—had asked to end the payments, overturning Miller’s order. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel later filed a formal lawsuit, which was scheduled to go to trial in March, to end the funding, which comes to about $70 million this fiscal year.

U.S. District Court Judge Price Marshall signed off on a plan, approved by all three major parties, which calls for funding to continue through 2017 and allows these transferred students to remain where they are through graduation. Magnet-school students cannot continue in their programs, however, and the plan also calls for the 2017 funding to be spent on facilities, one of several areas that is preventing the Pulaski County schools from being declared integrated. Desegregation efforts have already been declared successful in Little Rock and North Little Rock.

“The incentives are great for all of us,” McDaniel told Marshall on Monday. “We know that if litigation results in a harsh outcome [for one party or another], the true victims are the students.”

Marshall, who could only approve or reject the pact, was unable to modify it to rule on a request by parents in the Little Rock suburb of Sherwood to create their own district rather than wait for Pulaski County schools to be declared integrated. “The finish line keeps moving,” Beverly Williams, who represents Sherwood-area families, told the court, noting they have worked for years to try to get their own district approved. The city of Jacksonville, also in the Pulaski County Special district, is currently in the process of setting up its own district.

Latest News

women in politics

Women Remain Vastly Underrepresented in Local Government, Despite Conventional Wisdom Suggesting Otherwise

Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sat behind President Biden during his first speech to a joint session of Congress on April 28 — representing the first time two women held such important and high-ranking political offices. Even after such a historic moment, the reality…

voter restriction

Florida Follows Georgia’s Lead, Approves Racist Anti-Voter Restrictions Aimed Primarily at Democrats and People of Color

Not content with letting Georgia be the only state in the South demonized for its bigoted and racist attacks on voter rights, Florida has jumped into the fray in issuing its own series of new and highly controversial “Jim Crow-esque” anti-voting restrictions aimed specifically at disenfranchising Democrats and voters of…

Kentucky Derby

Inspired by Protests Over Breonna Taylor’s Death, Humana and Kentucky Derby Festival Launch Diversity and Inclusion Initiative in Louisville

Ahead of the 147th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 1, Kentucky Derby officials and Humana (No. 25 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020) have announced a new equity initiative meant to make the race more accessible and welcoming to everyone, regardless of race, gender, age…

crimes against human ity

‘Crime Against Humanity’; Global Report Says the US Should Be Prosecuted in International Criminal Court for Ongoing Police Murders of Black Americans

In what has been described as a “devastating” report, human rights experts and lawyers have investigated and released a 188-page analysis of the ongoing police brutality and killing of Black Americans in the U.S. Their verdict: the country is guilty of “crimes against humanity” and should be prosecuted for its…

Tokyo, Olympics

Tokyo Olympics to Encourage Significant Increase in Gender Equality Among Event’s Corporate Sponsors

Besides simply being a showcase for some of the most talented and athletic men and women on the planet, the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics are hoping their event this summer can also help promote significant change in corporate culture, both in Japan and around the globe. Bloomberg’s Ayai Tomisawa…

AbbVie Joins Over 400 Leading US Employers in the Human Rights Campaign’s ‘Business Coalition for the Equality Act’

Originally published on LinkedIn. AbbVie ranked No. 19 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020.   AbbVie has joined a group of over 400 corporations and leading U.S. employers to support the Human Rights Campaign’s “Business Coalition for the Equality Act,” an initiative advocating for federal…

Accenture and Goodwill Develop Virtual Experience To Help People Impacted by the Criminal Justice System Enter the Workforce

Originally published at Accenture is ranked No. 5 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020.   Goodwill Industries International has teamed with Accenture to develop an innovative virtual experience called Project Overcome. The experience is designed for people impacted by the criminal justice system who want to…