And Comments

MAY, 2003


There are 308 school districts in Arkansas.  Surveys were mailed to every superintendent in Arkansas, and 154 surveys were returned.  Results are below.  For  actual survey see:   Arkansas Superintendent Survey.


98% - Said 1800 more state department employees would not improve the quality of education in Arkansas. (This was the approximate number of  additional employees in ADE  if  Huckabee’s original plan for service centers had passed (Public Education Reorganization Act) - 900 for new service centers and 900 now in co-ops that would have become ADE employees.) Q. 20


97% -   In recent years, our schools have experienced  more and more government control. Q. 1


95% - The new educational reforms have been a top down approach with educational bureaucrats and/or legislators making most or all the significant decisions. Q. 4


The average of  superintendents’ answer on  the amount of  control  they and school boards have been allowed to make in the last five years is only 34%; 50% 10 years ago; 64% 15 years ago, and 81%  20 years ago. Q. 18


93% - Any increase in the number of state department employees would not be a good investment of the state’s money for quality education in Arkansas. Q. 21


89% - The federal legislation No Child Left Behind will increase government control even more and will make it harder to provide quality education in Arkansas. Q. 2


86% - Smart Start, the testing system in Arkansas, and other educational reforms are confusing, complex, and easily misinterpreted by educators, board members, legislators, and the public. Q. 7


84% - Would like for the AAEA leadership to poll superintendents by e-mail before they support or oppose particular bills.  Q. 24


 83%  - The State Department of Education is placing too much emphasis on test scores and is coercing educators to teach to the test. Q. 3


78% - Distance learning can be used effectively to meet the expanded course offerings mandated by the state and would be more effective for quality education than consolidation. Q. 9


71% of superintendents said the SAT-9 standardized tests that compare test scores to the rest of the nation reflect student achievement better than the state’s ACTAAP testing system.  Q. 6


71% - I do not think consolidation of any kind would solve the problems the schools face in providing quality education for the students in Arkansas. Q. 8


70% of  superintendents (113 superintendents) said they had heard representatives from the ADE or Co-op  use very similar language to the following quote which was part of  a teacher’s testimony to the Senate Education Committee this spring. 20% (32 superintendents  said they heard  the ADE director (Ray Simon) use very similar language to the following quote.  Q. 22 & 23


     “Arkansas frameworks and the test go together. The State of Arkansas has given you the frameworks. The state is saying this is what you should be teaching. This is what is on the test. This is what teachers are going to have to do. A lot of places are throwing away the textbooks and are just using these frameworks. If your scores don’t measure up, your school can be taken over by the state.”

     “He gave us some other practical suggestions that he said had increased scores up to 11% in some areas. One of those suggestions was to give good students enrichment work (teachers call that busy work) while we taught and re-taught the test item objectives to slower students. He also recommended working diligently and spending our time working with borderline students to bring them up to passing and to more or less forget about those students that were low enough that they weren’t going to make it anyway.”


60% - Do not feel free to publicly express their opinions about educational reforms because doing so may result in negative consequences for their school.  Q. 5


On a scale of 1-10, on how well the mandates from the state are addressing the real needs for providing a better education for our students, the average of all the responses from the superintendent survey was 3.9. In other words the ADE would receive less than a 40 if  it were a percentage average. Q. 10


32% of the mandates which schools are required to implement come from the federal government. Q. 12


64% of the mandates which schools are required to implement come from the state government. Q. 13


49 percent of the mandates from the federal government are unfunded. Q. 15


62% of the mandates from the state are unfunded.  Q. 14


43 percent of superintendents’ time is expended in studying and implementing state and federal mandates. Q. 16


Only 24% of the mandates from the state and federal government are needed to provide quality education in their school.  Q. 17


The answer was a 3.9 on the question: On a scale of 1-10, where would you rate the need for more course offerings or an enriched curriculum in order to provide a quality education for your students? (10 representing the greatest need for more course offerings). Q. 11


51% of the co-op services that their school uses is used to meet state or federal mandates. Q. 19


Question  25 and Other Comments From Superintendent Survey


Question 25 on the survey read:  If you had to choose just one thing that would help you improve education in your school, excluding money, what would it be?  The surveys were numbered as they were returned;  and the answer to Question 25 is given below.  Then any other comments the superintendents put on their survey is in  parenthesis. Summary is given first. Fifteen surveys had no comment for Question 25.

1.Q25. More local control.

2.Q25. Freedom to fire teacher that do not get the job done.

3.Q25. No comment.

4.Q25. Emphasis on basics.

5. Q25.Quality teachers - motivated, supported - protected from politics, crazy parents.

6.Q25. All teachers to teach & not so much paper work.

 6.  ( It is  proven that smaller schools do a better job educating students.) But the Gov./& Department director cares less about this issues. It’s money to them. It’s all about money. If I felt the students at this small school weren’t being taught, then I would vote to close it now. If all this consolidation happens, many students will fall through the cracks. Then it will be too late. Our test scores will as well.)

7.Q25. Fewer government mandates and allowing teachers to teach without being away from their classes for the constant workshops/training.

8.Q25. Less Interference from state & federal mandates.

9.Q25. There are too many workshops that mostly have negative results  that pull classroom teachers out of the classes.

10.Q25. Get rid of unproductive people & have productive people.

( Get rid of negative productive courses & offer more productive courses: More resource for teachers: Ability to hold students & parents responsible:)

11.Q25. Less testing.

12.Q25. The freedom to send the time & energy necessary to work on the problems that are specific to us.

13.Q25. Local control.

14.Q25. Better teacher service that would help improve test scores.

15.Q25. Long term focus & objectives instead of waves of change.

16.Q25. Less governmental intrusion.

17.Q25. Lower student teacher ratio.

18.Q25. No comment.

19.Q25. Give us the directive; then let us find the way to get it accomplished. Allow us to make decisions for our community.

  ( Too many mandates, not enough funding, too much state interference. Please allow local communities to decide the education for our schools.)

20.Q25. Leadership and communication from the state department.

21.Q25. Economic  level of the community. Education level of the community.

22.Q25. N/A

 ( To concentrate on teaching the curriculum of 38.5 units that would reduce the college remediation rate to zero. But that is not what the colleges want. Another thing would be to reduce the paperwork from the Dept. of education; that is just something for them to look at and does not mean a thing. The state department has a mean streak toward small schools, and this needs to be stopped. Why have they not made several 5A schools jump through the hoops that we have to go through. Just look at the Little Rock Camden Fairview, Pine Bluff - just to name a few.

23.Q25. Freedom from some of the micro-managing” laws that the legislative enacts every two years.

24.Q25. Require some sort of state certification for school board members.

  ( Our education system has become too fragmented.  Teachers are being asked to attend far to

 many meetings during the school year leaving their classroom with subs. Our co-ops have done a good job of convincing people in high places of what a wonderful job they are doing. It’s time for elected officials to stand up to the courts and just say no, we’re not going to follow this baloney ruling you’ve made. We’re going after the judge's attention; We do not have it.

25.Q25. Less meeting time at Little Rock that consumes time for teachers and administrators and more encouragement from the ADE for teachers and administrators to carry out some of the objectives to the extent that a real determination can be made as to whether that objective is successful or not.

26.Q25. Dissolve the state board of education and re-organize it to reflect the demographics of the state.

27.Q25. More local control.

  ( The governor and education director for along with big business  leaders are trying to move Arkansas education in the wrong direction. We need to only look at West Virginia and other states to show that consolidation is not the direction to improve our education system.

Why can’t Arkansas ever learn from the past mistakes of other states. It seems as if Arkansas always comes along around ten years later with ideas that were total failures throughout history and try to implement them here. I feel I’m in a state that is always at least ten years behind the times.

28.Q25. Time to be an Educational leader and not a compliance officer for state and federal mandates.

  (We’ve lost track of what is important in education. Somehow the Lakeview case has spawned tragic ramifications. The ramifications do not seem to correlate with the decision.

29.Q25. Allow us to eliminate the red tape in hiring. It’s harder than ever fore to hire teachers. Too many tests!!!

30.Q25. More support from the state dept. of education rather than directions

 (Effective teaching & learning is individualized.) Textbooks are not. We need resources that help teachers individualize their instructions. It takes money. The state of Arkansas must realize that the Supreme Court states that schools are inadequately funded.

31.Q25. Less state control.

32.Q25. More definitive frameworks and more control over classroom instruction (less Fair Teacher Dismissal Act to ensure that the teachers are teaching the kids what they will see on those high stake exams.

( Example: I gave the teachers time to work on curriculum guides alignment to the frameworks. A group of them used that time to write Ray Simon and tell him that the frameworks were too broad and that they were not going to waste their time on them. The people had husbands and supporters on the local board. We need less teacher control of the schools!

33.Q25. Attitude.

34.Q25. Additional instructional leadership.

35.Q25. Allow teachers to teach the curriculum now is place. More units will not necessarily make smarter students. Students do not need to be able to choose many courses.  They should be told this in what is required. We are judged (the school district) by what the students do on test.  Why not teach the students more with fewer course offerings instead of teaching less with more course offering. If they go to college, they can choose any course they would like.

36.Q25. Well trained staff.

37.Q25. Required staff development in summer- paid for.

38.Q25. Stop protecting special ed students from being disciplined the same as other students. There is always some reason they have to be treated better than the regular students. If you try to separate them from the regular students, you have to spend a fortune.

39.Q25. Smaller class ratio.

40.Q25. Local control.

( Charles Knox and Kellar Noggle should be replaced as AAEA leaders.)

41.Q25 Less federal and state control.

42.Q25. Less emphasis on testing. This would release a lot of stress for teachers.

43.Q25. More vocational- workforce training for non-college bound students.

44.Q25 This was pretty biased. If you are going to do this sort of stuff at least use hikkert-type items. Sending out surveys like this makes us look unprofessional. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not critical of the intent; just the methodology.

45.Q25. Let local schools have more freedom.

( The ADE has developed into a typical bureaucracy with little understanding of the real world. They may be well intentioned, but they are lacking in practical knowledge of operating schools.)

46.Q25. Longer teaching contracts.

47.Q25. Quality teachers.

48.Q25. No comments

49.Q25. Greater parental involvement.

 ( I believe that some consolidation is desperately needed in a few places. I do not believe that the 60 credits are needed. Something ultimately in the mid-50's as far as credits, would be reasonable to me. Smart start has been a plus for our district. With multiple choice tests they cannot know with certainty that the child knows a skill. However, we know that more time is needed for better implementation. The implementation speed is bad and I feel will lead to greater stress and cheating where district scores are low. Only a few of my fellow superintendents are just trying to keep their jobs and fighting consolidation. Most of us are in this job for the right reason: To help kids achieve and succeed.

50.Q25. More time to focus on student achievement instead of meeting state & federal mandates.

51.Q25. More support from parents & state & federal government in discipline decisions of students..

52.Q25. Parents involvement in the life of their children.

53.Q25. More discipline.

  ( need more local control.)

54.Q25. Less regulation.

55.Q25. Being able to fire some teachers!

56.Q25. Eliminate State Dept- less testing.

  ( I feel 85% of the schools in Arkansas are doing a good job with the money provided. The 85% are paying for the sins of the others. State Dept. is offering schools no help. It is in terrible shape. We could function better with no State Dept. Its time to start over, oust the director and begin again. Financial distress districts are that way because of cuts. Recognize that the state caused these deficits.

57.Q25. Let us decide what to spend our money on.

  ( Too many regulations and unfunded mandates. )

58.Q25. People who care enough to serve ( from the top down)

59.Q25. Less state involvement.

60.Q25. More properly certified teachers.

61.Q25. Set standards and  then leave them alone.

62.Q25. Less paperwork, rules and regs., so we can spend more time with students.

63.Q25. No comments

64.Q25. Remove the current state board & director. Replace the board & director with something that is more public and school friendly.

65.Q25. Less federal & state involvement.

  ( Its seems that we have an unwelcome takeover of our school districts by both federal and state bureaucracies that have resulted in not only a feeling of helplessness but also hopelessness among educators. I am so grateful that I am retiring at the end of this school war. There are some schools that are too small to offer on adequate education- 300 students or less.

66.Q25. Quality of teachers.

  ( Legislation is being passed to accommodate the teachers without regard for what is best for the students and community.)

67.Q25. Improved teaching.

  ( The state benchmark exam has resulted in higher achievement in our school. I agree with the concepts of the test. You can’t teach to this test- you can only teach to the standards. Without identified standards educators could teach anything they want. If we can meet the goals set the state plan for NCLB, we will see students better prepared for the future. I don’t think consolidation is the answer. Research supports small schools to a point. Efficiency is lost at the very smallest unit.

68.Q25. To be less in the political areas & more focus on local needs.

69.Q25. No comment.

70.Q25. Make parents more responsible for the academic progress of students.

71.Q25. Qualified employee’s in ADE.

72.Q25. Either let teachers teach or provide a daily state curriculum so everyone is teaching the same thing.

  ( If the state is going to take over all the schools, surely that have a better plan for running the school. I wish the department of education would put how they plan to run our schools in a booklet and share it with the school boards and superintendents.

73.Q25. A move proactive board rather than interest only in athletics.

74.Q25. Less control from state .

  ( Consolidation in any form will destroy rural Arkansas . and our small schools. It will be a mistake. One of best features of Arkansas education is our small school. May we have the wisdom to keep them and the things they do for their students - especially the average & below average students.

75.Q25. For the ADE to either lead or follow on get the hell out the way!!!

76.Q25. I want to use a nationally normed test to compare my students to. Not the benchmarks.

  ( I have no confidence in the director of the ADE nor any of his assistant directors.)

77.Q25. No comments

78.Q25. Less bureaucracy.

79.Q25. Parental involvement.

  80.Q25. Local control.

81.Q25. No comments

82.Q25. More local control.

  ( We need to get to educating our students. No money should be spent on consolidation.)

83.Q25. Legitimate authority.

  ( Unfunded mandates will damage all schools.  Why______is the legislature doing this?)

84.Q25.  More qualified teachers.

85.Q25. Elimination of all programs that are mandates without full funding. This would allow flexibility to use available resources at the local level where they are needed.

86.Q25. To have an even better faculty than we have, and we have a pretty good one with teachers who care. (Something to make our teachers feel more appreciated.)

  (Consolidation is not true answer. I am sure there are some schools that need to consolidate. The Lakeview decision does not mandate consolidation. The governor and his supporters seem to think reducing districts to lesser numbers will make it easier. They do not care about the kids. A new funding formula that is more equitable is the answer. I was satisfied with the one we have but many were not. I do not see any way a perfect formula can be reached that is equitable to all. More money will help, but the rich will get richer and the poor will still be poorer than others. We are a small district will excellent test scores and excellent students. It will be a great shame if we have to consolidate, just because we have 400 students.

87.Q25. Education improvement is never as simple as just one thing.

  ( Those charged with making decisions about public education in Arkansas - from those supporting the governor’s plan to those supporting maintaining all the extremely small districts - are not really focused on providing quality education for all students in Arkansas. It seems to be politics as usual.

88.Q25. Increase parent / students accountability for attendance, achievement.

  ( Most of the acts passed by the legislature are unfunded mandates that lack depth, real meaning, or lasting impact. I am concerned about the lack of experience of our legislatures. They do not have the knowledge base or resolve to resist “quick fix” bills or initiatives pushed by the AEA and other groups whose agendas are not based upon what is good for kids. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the future of education is in the hands of politicians trying to make a name for themselves, lawyers trying to make money, and an influential few who really have no stake in public education’s future.

89.Q25. Parental support.

90.Q25. Do away with NCLB, ACTAAP and other state tests and use national tests such as SAT- 9 and let local school districts have control to improve education and raise SAT-9 scores.

91.Q25. The ability to supervise personnel to the point that those not performing could be fired.

  ( State officials completely miss the problem with public schools. It is not pay (low salaries), it is not the size of the school district (consolidation), or many of the other high profile issues that they like to stir in. I believe they deal in these superficial issues so that they never have to face the issues. The problem is in the classroom at each local individual school. Education will make or break at the individual classroom. Students are socially promoted without being prepared for work at the next level. The problem is compounded year-after-year until the student reaches high school, and it is long to late to take corrective measures. We are then charged with graduating students who can not even read. This problem started in elementary school not high school. And discipline .. I don’t have the time nor space to deal with the topic of “The Generation of Child Worship”and the battle not worth fighting as viewed by too many teachers & administration to properly train students in good discipline.

92.Q25. No testing.

93.Q25. It would nice to be able to fire poor teachers and administrators without taking years.

94.Q25. More local control.

95.Q25. More local control.                                                                                        

96.Q25. Meaningful serious parental involvement encouraging stable family life that will nurture children and prepare them for school.

97.Q25. No comments

98.Q25. Less government regulation.

99.Q25. No comments.

100.Q25. Changing is obviously necessary according to the Supreme Court. However the drastic consolidation proposals move too quickly. School districts should be given ample time or least 3 yrs. to consider voluntary consolidation etc. with state incentive funding.

101.Q25. By having power to let inefficient teachers go.

102.Q25. More local control.

103.Q25.It says over but nothing is on back.

104.Q25. No comment.

105.Q25. Less bureaucracy at state and federal level.

106.Q25. Stop all school re-organization activity. This is only a political game.

   ( Do away with the state board of education. HB1023 the bill to allow members of the state board to be chosen house, state & governor is a good bill. Do away with our present ADE director.)

107.Q25. More local control.

108.Q25. A clear direction for what’s best for schools without interference from pressure groups: i.e. Supt, unions, legislators, tax payers who don’t want to support schools, etc.... I could go on I’m not at all sure this survey or this AFA represents me & my children.

109.Q25. Keep teachers in the classroom and not gone to meetings or workshop.

110.Q25. Local control with parents/teachers/students input. Keep the state & federal out of it.

111.Q25. Less regulations.

  ( I think the teacher grade book is still the best gauge of students achievement or the lack thereof.)

112.Q25. Less regulation & more innovation & help from ADE.

  ( If there is disagreement with the inner-circle (R. Simons, J. Argue, etc.) position, all in opposition are labeled “radical” or “crazy”. It is my opinion that all views are valued in a democracy, not just those of the party in power or the power of the person. After mountains of research documenting all the negatives of consolidation and dispelling the myth of “saving money”, they still will not admit error. We are required to use data- research- for all academic & financial decisions. Effective schools have always done so. Shouldn’t the Governor & appointees follow their own dictates.

113.Q25. No comments

114.Q25. Less regulation by state and federal authorities.

115.Q25. A free certified staff.

116.Q25. Community support. Not to run or tell us how to do our jobs.

117.Q25. Higher standards, more courses to select, qualified teachers.

 ( I support consolidation. This survey is biased)

118.Q25. More freedom to improve the teaching process.

119.Q25. Less stress on the teaching profession; let them do their job.

120.Q25. More local control input in decision making.

121.Q25. No comment.

122.Q25. Good advice from knowledgeable people.

123.Q25. No comment.

124.Q25. No comment.

125.Q25. Increase emphasis on curriculum & teaching strategies & less on testing.

126.Q25. Improving student attitude.

  ( I feel that time needs to be devoted to helping all of the students. Testing students like we are is entirely too much. If you use SAT 9, use SAT 9 only. If you use benchmark, then use it only as the evaluative tool. More money needs to go to the “basic” child. We have funds for gifted & special education. Money will have to be allocated to the districts more to be able to do all requirements. Also the state of Arkansas needs to rely on its own educators rather than go out of state. Other states have more money for education than we do. Finally if the small districts meet the present standards and can manage academically and financially, then don’t consolidate them.  Leave them alone.

127.Q25. Have authority to hire and fire with no questions asked.

128.Q25. Clear concise communication for state & federal mandates.

129.Q25. We are overwhelmed with legislative mandates that require non-teaching time compliance and documentation. Accountability is front & center with test data serving as the center tool that drives the curriculum.

130.Q25. We only want the truth! If this were true you would not need a biased survey to try and prove your subjective analysis. The truth often times lies between the fingers full of sound and fury. The truth is neither Argue’s nor your private domain. I can agree with some of the positions of both sides. I will not have my opinions forced into a choice that represents my position to prove yours. Thanks, but no thanks.

131.Q25. Local control.

132.Q25. An effective State Dept of Ed & government.

133.Q25. Increase funding for teaching salaries to maintain and recruit good teachers.

134.Q25. Better teachers.

135.Q25. Spend less of our time, energy & money on special education.

136.Q25. The quality of teachers.

137.Q25. We’re small- 250 students k-12. Let the state consolidate us. Don’t just cut off our money supply to eliminate us.

138.Q25. Subject matter expert at the ADE in content areas that could give practical answer to real life problems to improve student achievement not just textbooks answers.

  (Increase the pay for ADE employees to attract quality personnel and not just rejects from public schools. Stop trying to get personnel from local district to do workshops for poorly ran school. This takes our personnel out of our district to do a job ADE employees should be able to accomplish. Bottom line- ADE gives directives with no ideas on how to implement them.   School districts are usually left taking the lead.

139.Q25. More creativity in solving our own problems- more local control; less paperwork.

140.Q25. Stop state micro-management.

141.Q25. Parent support, community involvement, improve facilities.

142.Q25. Use of SAT-9 scores only. Expand distance leaning.

143.Q25. Teachers recruitment/ teacher quality.

144.Q25. More professional development for teachers & more time for preparation in teaching class.

145.Q25. Money and less state control.

146.Q25. Improve the respect of parents, community, politicians for the teaching profession.

147.Q25. No comment.

148.Q25. Better parenting skills utilized by some of the households in this district.

149.Q25. Better parental support and supervision of their children.

150.Q25. For parents to be held more responsible.

151.Q25. Parent involvement.

152.Q25. Teachers not being out of classroom due to staff development. Staff development needs to be in the summer.

153.Q25. Less mandates.

154.Q25.Adopt classical education.


For Actual Survey Questions see:  Arkansas Superintendent Survey.


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