(USNewsMag.com) – The Arkansas LEARNS Act, which would allow for parental school choice in the state, was approved by the Republican-controlled legislature on March 7. It now moves to Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ office for her official signing.
By the 2025–2026 school year, Educational Freedom Accounts would allow all students their choice of the school that best fits their needs.
In the first year, the Arkansas Department of Education predicts that nearly 7,000 students may use the Education Freedom Accounts, while by the second year, that number will have increased to 14,000. As stated in the financial impact report, the first year’s costs will be close to $48 million, while the second year’s estimate will be closer to $97.5 million.
In the current school year, 2023-2024, students who participate in the Arkansas school voucher program are able to use their vouchers to pay for things like course fees, tutoring, and college entrance examinations, all at no cost to themselves.
The state’s DOE produced a financial impact report estimating the bill’s annual costs at $298 million, of which $150 million would be brand new funding. The amount of $180 million of the yearly cost will go toward paying the higher compensation for teachers, starting with a base pay of $50,000 per year. With this rise, Arkansas’s beginning teacher salary will be among the highest 10 in the nation. K-3 pupils who are having trouble reading will have access to 120 coaches in literacy and tutoring grants of $500.
Among the “most conservative education reforms in America,” as Sanders put it, this plan is a major step forward. The sooner these improvements are made, the better. With 78-21 registered House votes and 26-8 registered Senate votes, the Arkansas LEARNS Act was overwhelmingly approved. The status quo, which she believes has ruled our educational system for too long and is currently failing, is coming to an end in her eyes. A solid education, leading to a well-paying profession and a better quality of life, should now be available to every child in Arkansas.
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