In about three weeks, schools in Arkansas will begin the big testing season. In Little Rock, there are eight schools that need to show significant improvement.
On my school tour, I have witnessed first hand the energy and commitment to make progress. Once you visit and meet the teachers and students, it is impossible not to pull for them, and to root for them as the testing begins.
But, is it possible for these schools. Only one of them is located in a neighborhood that would be labeled solidly middle class. Are there just too many economic social pressures to bear. It was why I went to Quawpaw Methodist Church this evening.
I wanted to visit with Dr. Pedro Noguero, a professor at UCLA and author of 13 books on turning schools around.
"The good news here is that poverty is not a learning disability. We don't have to wait till we end poverty in Arkansas to end this problem," he said.
He has seen it happen nationwide, and this is why he was the guest of the Little Rock Advocacy Group Grass Roots Arkansas. He brought with him a glimmer of hope.
"Getting the public involved like yourself, individuals who have the education and the time to work with schools as volunteers, is a big help and I betcha there are people throughout Little Rock who could do that and should be invited in," he said.