NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/FOX24) — Education is a big topic at the Arkansas State House this legislative session and that includes the debate over school choice.
In Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ LEARNS plan for the future of Arkansas education, the letter E stands for “Empowerment.”
Her website defines that as “Empower parents with more choices, so no child is ever trapped in a failing school and lifetime in poverty and curriculum transparency through innovation and online resources.”
According to edchoice.org, school choice allows public education funds to follow students whether that child is in public school, private school, a charter school or is home-schooled.
Supporters say this will allow kids to get the schooling that best fits their needs without letting financial problems get in the way for parents.
Those who oppose it say this will weaken our public school system by taking funding away. There are also concerns about some kids being excluded from those schools that aren’t public.
Some are also worried about accountability for how tax dollars are spent.
“I have always been a proponent of school choice, even all the way back to 2006,” said Republican State Senator Bryan King, District 28. “But what does that school choice going to look like? Is there going to be school selection? And where is that money going to go for taxpayers can how’s it going to be accountable?”
“I went to public schools in Springdale, but I also am open to the idea that that might not be the right path for absolutely every kid in the state,” said Democrat State Senator Greg Leding, District 30. “But I don’t think any alternatives should come at the expense of public school.”
January 22 through the 28 is National School Choice Week. The Reform Alliance is hosting a rally in support of school choice at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock on Monday. Gov. Sanders is expected to speak at the rally.
So far, there are no bills filed for the legislative session about school choice or voucher programs.