Leader Blues

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

TOP STORY > > Bold ideas proposed for schools

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

Throwing political correctness to the wind, as he promised, the president of the Pulaski County Special School District board said Tuesday that he’d like to see good teachers rewarded and poor teachers fired; that he’d like to see extra consideration based on poverty instead of race and that while he doesn’t think a separate Jacksonville school district is a good idea, he’s committed to voting for it if that’s what the community wants.

Charlie Wood, speaking to the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce membership luncheon, represents Sherwood on the school board.

As president, Wood has set next Tuesday for a special meeting to consider a resolution for the school board to endorse a stand-alone school district for Jacksonville. Proponents would like to have that endorsement for U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson to consider when he takes up PCSSD’s petition for unitary status.

It took Wood only about 30 min utes to get crossways with the teachers’ union, some teachers, with the supporters of the district’s 25-year old desegregation imbroglio and with those who support a stand-alone Jacksonville district as well as those who don’t.

Reminding those in attendance that he spoke only for himself, he said that treating Mills University School as a magnet school for high-achieving students siphoned off many of the brightest students from Jacksonville and Sherwood schools and left them unable to provide many advanced-placement classes for their own students.

Wood said he favored grading teachers on a traditional A-F scale, giving sizable bonuses or pay increases to “A” teachers, smaller ones to “B” teachers, help to “C” teachers, warnings to “D” teachers and pink slips to “F” teachers.

He acknowledged it would be hard to do, without ever naming the Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers or even saying the word “union.”

Wood said new facilites were needed throughout the state, not just at PCSSD schools. He suggested that a tax increase might be a way to pay for better facilities.

One big problem with PCSSD is that it is composed of five or six separate communities, which instead of pulling together, often compete with each other for the scarce resources—usually money to do things.

He said places like Cabot, Benton and Bryant have a committed community pulling together.

“It’s past time to make programs based on race,” said Wood. “It’s almost an insult to blacks.”

Wood added that it was time to get out of the desegregation agreement.