Governor Sarah Sanders Reveals Her “Blueprint For States”

( Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the Republican governor of Arkansas, touted the education reform bill she introduced recently that includes having a program for school choice that is universal throughout the state.

Sanders, a former official in the Trump administration, said that the Arkansas proposal could serve as a model that other states could follow if they want to take a holistic approach to their own education.

The governor spoke with the Washington Examiner recently, only days after the Arkansas LEARNS bill, which is one of her signature pieces of legislation, was introduced into the state Legislature. The bill would expand literacy programs, increase the pay of teachers and create universal school choice.

In commenting on the bill, Sanders said that it “can be a blueprint for states across the country to look to on how we can improve education.”

She explained:

“We have been working with parents, teachers, school board members, superintendents, and you know, other stakeholders around Arkansas and getting their feedback and priorities and areas they think that we can lean into to improve education. And over the course of that time, and working with our partners in the legislature over the last couple months, crafted what we think is the most comprehensive and conservative education reform package in the country.”

Sanders became governor just last month, and this bill is the one that she’s been putting her weight behind the most. Universal school choice is perhaps the signature element of the entire plan, and one that people in other states might believe is semi-controversial.

The plan would take three years to be fully phased in.

As for the salary of public school teachers, the new minimum salary would be $50,000. All teachers would also receive a raise of at least $2,000.

Sanders commented on this:

“We’re really focusing on doing a better job of recruiting and retaining the best teachers that we can. We’ve also added some other incentives to place priority on teachers who are willing to go into some of the higher demand sectors and teaching and certainly some of the areas of our state where we have the highest date.”

In explaining the impetus behind universal school choice, Sanders said the goal is to “put the power into the hands of parents to make sure that our students are getting the best education possible.”

The program is being implemented by taking education savings accounts,which can then be used to pay for education expenses and even tuition to private schools.

While Sanders has been touting her program, not everyone in the state is on board. For example, the Arkansas Education Association, one of the state’s teachers unions, says that the governor is pushing an “unpopular and destructive voucher scheme” and trying to convince people it’s the right thing to do by increasing teacher pay.

Carol Fleming, the president of the AEA, commented:

“Vouchers take scarce funding away from public schools and give it to private schools that are unaccountable to the public. Arkansas needs to focus on investing in our public schools – where 90 percent of our children go – instead of diverting money from them to give to the 10 percent who attend private schools. By taking funding away for public schools, vouchers will harm rural communities, where public schools are popular and remain the only option for most students.”