During the last Newport School Board Meeting, Dr. Larry Bennett presented a printout of statistical information compiled by Dr. Michael Mills of Little Rock to the school board. The findings were presented in a bar graph to show the correlation between race, poverty, and school report card grades in Arkansas. Mills presented the data to Governor Hutchinson and Commissioner Key to explain data does not support the movement for the dismissal of teachers in relation to student achievement. Mills intention was to refocus efforts in the state “to prioritize solutions addressing the inequities caused by race and poverty rather than continue a campaign of scapegoating teachers.” As a member of the community, it is important to be aware of current data and attaining adequate knowledge of problems. Superintendent Larry Bennett attempted to present these findings to the board during the regular school board meeting, but was interrupted twice by a visitor asking, “What does that have to do with us?” Although Bennett chose to stop reading the information to the board to avoid more outbursts, he wanted to convey statistical information that has everything to do with all Arkansas schools, especially Newport.

            “According to the data, there are no A-rated schools, none, with a majority of black students and with a majority of students classified as low-income. As for B-rated schools, there are only three (3) in the entire state with a majority of black students and a majority of low-income students. Two of those three schools are in Little Rock School District (Gibbs and Williams),” states Mills in his correspondence. He continues, “If we are to get serious about improving our schools, the state should look to addressing poverty and race problems that have existed in Arkansas for decades.”

            The data in the attached graph shows that school demographic and performance data are clear. One example Mills uses is that the average minority population of all A-rated schools in Arkansas is 19%, while the white population of these schools is 77%? On the other hand, the average minority population of F-rated schools is 87%, while these same schools have 12% white population. Another finding Mills makes know is that there are no A or B-rated high schools in the state with a majority low-income and majority black population, and only four (4) in the entire state of Arkansas received a C rating. All others received a D or F rating.

            The full breakdown of all public schools is as follows:

A-rated Schools

19.05% -Non-white population

77.13% -White population

42.35% -Low income population

B-rated Schools

23.72% -Non-white population

74.23%- White population

57.16%- Low income population

C-rated Schools (Newport)

31.93% -Non-white population

66.35% -White population

68.84% -Low income population

D-rated Schools

64.52%- Non-White population

34.3 %  -White population

77.73% -Low income population

F-rated Schools

87.32%- Non-white population

12.09%- White population

87.10%- Low income population