LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Educating students of all ages was the goal of the Arkansas Opportunity Summit on Saturday. The forum happened at the Saint Mark Baptist Church and those who took part offered solutions they hope to bring back to their communities.
Among the group who attended were community leaders, legislators, teachers, and even students. The wide array of people came together looking to implement effective teaching strategies that will keep students learning instead of in suspension.
Gloria Majors, a resident from Prescott, said she attends forums that are focused on improving education for children in Arkansas.
"We are learning how to apply what we have learned and go into the Capitol and talk to the senators and talk to the representatives and that we are able to make our voices heard," Majors said.
Majors and others are attending events like these to lower the number of student referrals and suspensions. And forums like these point out that some issues affect one race over another.
"Looking at the severity we have to ask ourselves is there some problem there in our system that we need to change," said Edgar Villanueva, Vice President for the Schott Foundation for Public Education.
The Schott Foundation is just one of many advocating and fighting for equal public education. The foundation champions the idea that schools need additional resources, better funding, and to support the community around schools.
It's forums like this that keeps the conversation going. The fight will always continue to implement the changes needed to improve Arkansas schools. Executive Director for the Schott Foundation, Bill Kopsky, said research shows that other models from different states could prove to work here in Arkansas.
"Things like making Pre-K more accessible to students who want to go," Kopsky said. "Providing after school summer learning programs is a proven way of helping every child succeed."
But what can a community do outside of these forums?
Pastor Robert Marshall Sr. thinks bringing a program that started in Memphis to Arkansas might help that gap. The program uses community leaders and turns them into mentors for students. The pastor said if students are more likely to behave if they have a friendship with a community leader.
Whatever the solution may be, it's clear that the community always comes first.