ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) – Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed an executive order Wednesday focusing on education. More specifically, prioritizing L.E.A.R.N.S. It stands for literacy, empowerment, accountability, readiness, networking, and school safety.

One of the points in the executive order highlights charter schools.

The Secretary of the Department of Education shall empower parents by:

a. Coordinating, alongside the State Board of Education, policies that streamline processes to continue, expand, and replicate effective charter schools.

EXECUTIVE ORDER TO PRIORITIZE L.E.A.R.N.S. (LITERACY, EMPOWERMENT, ACCOUNTABILITY, READINESS, NETWORKING, AND SCHOOL SAFETY)

Lisa Academy is a charter school with campuses across Arkansas. Hannah Philpot, the assistant director of communications, said now is the time for parents to consider charter schools, if they’re interested.

“We’re seeing an increased demand in charter schools, and it makes sense that we’re responding to the demand that’s in our community,” said Philpot.

While both public and charter schools are free to students, there are key differences.

According to Patrick Wolf, a distinguished professor of education policy at the University of Arkansas, one of the main differences is that are no assignment zones in charter schools. That means they can enroll students from a wider geographic area.

Another difference is that while public schools face many regulations, charter schools often don’t have as many.

However, in exchange for charter schools’ freedom, they often have to achieve higher goals for their students. Those mandatory goals are written into their charter.

Because of that, charter schools normally have a focus on their curriculum. Lisa Academy, as an example, has a STEM focus.

“Lisa Academy is STEM-focused- science, technology, engineering and math, and college prep. So, that’s what we focus our curriculum and our extracurricular experiences on. That’s what we’re about and who we are,” said Philpot.

Parents having to make the conscious choice to pick a charter school can create a high standard.

“We have to do our best to make it a place that families want to come because we’re accountable to the state to uphold our charter to be high-performing,” said Philpot.

Whether it’s public, private, or charter, Philpot believes there’s a growing need for more educational opportunities for students and their families.

“With Northwest Arkansas expanding as much as it is, it really does behoove us to have lots of options for students and families to choose from,” said Philpot.