LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders unveiled her education reform package Wednesday. The Arkansas LEARNS plan will include teacher salary increases and a school voucher program. Lawmakers from each major party had different reactions to the announcement.
“This bill includes everything I wanted,” Sen. Bart Hester said. “A lot of work has gone into this, and it will benefit parents and teachers in this state.”
Hester said the details are still being pored over by legal minds, but the bill itself should be released relatively soon.
“We’d love to see it next week, but we’re not sure that’s going to happen,” Hester said.
Democratic lawmakers said they completely disagree with the school voucher element, which they said would hurt public schools.
“We should focus on teacher pay in a clean bill,” Rep. Tippi McCullough said. “With today’s event, it seems the omnibus bill is inevitable, but we will keep having discussions with members.”
McCullough said the broadness of this bill is something her party has problems with.
“We should put all our resources into [teacher pay] and make them better, which is a much simpler plan than trying to dismantle parts of [public schools],” McCullough said. “We should stop trying to support a system that’s too big, unaccountable and far-reaching.”
Sanders said this delivers on her promise to change the education system in Arkansas.
“We are delivering on that promise to introduce the most far-reaching, bold, and Conservative education reforms anywhere in the entire country,” Sanders said.