A recent judge’s order issued a temporary delay regarding the implementation of the LEARNS Act. This order prevents ADE “from implementing or enforcing any aspect of the Arkansas LEARNS Act, Act 237 of 2023, until such time that it becomes law.” Attorney General Tim Griffin filed an immediate appeal of the order to the Arkansas Supreme Court. We will keep you posted with any further updates.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Governor of Arkansas
Secretary, Arkansas Department of Education
Commissioner, ADE Division of Elementary and Secondary Education
Words from our leaders
"Education is the foundation for success, and, with Secretary of Education and Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jacob Oliva, we are ready to transform Arkansas education with bold reforms that will empower every kid to succeed. Jacob’s proven success increasing student achievement and his experience serving in many educational roles will make him an asset to my administration.
Through my Arkansas L.E.A.R.N.S. plan, we will expand access to quality education for every kid growing up in our state, empower parents, not government bureaucrats, and prepare students for the workforce, not government dependency, so everyone has a shot at a better life right here in Arkansas.”
“Governor Sanders has the right vision to unleash Arkansas education, and I’m excited to get to work on day one to enact it. Education is the key to the future, creating opportunity for all, which is why I’ve spent my career implementing successful early learning programs, empowering parents with choices, and investing in career readiness. I am ready to continue that work here in Arkansas and look forward to working with Governor Sanders to build a bright future for our students.”
The Executive Order
Executive Order to prioritize L.E.A.R.N.S. (Literacy, Empowerment, Accountability, Readiness, Networking, and School Safety)
SB294 / ACT 237
TO CREATE THE LEARNS ACT; TO AMEND VARIOUS PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE AS THEY RELATE TO EARLY CHILDHOOD THROUGH GRADE TWELVE EDUCATION IN THE STATE OF ARKANSAS; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY
ADE Transparency Dashboards
Enrollment Range Dashboard: School Year 2022-2023
Statewide Information System, SIS Cycle 2 – October 15, 2022
School Letter Grade Distribution: School Year 2021 - 2022
ESSER Transparency Dashboard
Updated as of January 17, 2023
- The state will improve access to quality pre-K and make reading coaches available for at-risk children.
- 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.
- Reward good teachers with smart incentives, like higher pay.
- Create a strong pipeline by allowing soon-to-be teachers to spend their entire last year in the classroom, offer alternative certification improvements, and better leadership trainings.
- Create flexibility for students to pursue internships and apprenticeships while in school and align career and technical programs with jobs that are in high demand.
- Establish a workforce cabinet to execute a clear vision with better coordination.
- Launch a statewide campaign to support the work of technical and trade schools and opportunities that exist for the future workforce.
- Expand high-speed internet to make educational and career opportunities accessible.
- Prioritize school safety by focusing on physical security, additional resource officers, mental health, and training to implement best practices.
"Educational Freedom Accounts will hurt public education & close rural schools."
Actually, the opposite is true. Research shows that Educational Freedom Accounts lead to better outcomes in traditional public schools. That's because they empower parents of all income to customize their child's education; if the local school district is the best option, it won't lose any kids. Data from other states show that the large majority of families, when given the choice, continue to send their kids to traditional public schools and charter schools - but families deserve to have that choice.
"School choice programs give money to unaccountable private schools."
Here in Arkansas, it's not school choice; it's parental empowerment. Ultimately, parents make the best decisions for their child and know when a school is right or wrong. Often that means sending kids to their local school district, but a child's ZIP code shouldn't be the only thing determining the type of education they receive. And any private school or student that opts into this program will be held accountable and required to participate in year-end assessments, just like students in traditional public schools.
"Critical Race Theory isn't being taught anywhere in Arkansas."
President Biden's Department of Education is using nationwide guidelines and grant programs to force school districts to adopt key tenants of Critical Race Theory. That includes work from the "Abolitionist Teaching Network" and parts of the newly proposed "American History and Civics Education" priorities. The Governor's Executive Order directed the Secretary to comb through those DOE materials to ensure Washington bureaucrats can't bully Arkansas schools into teaching racist indoctrination. As Governor Sanders and Secretary Oliva have said, Arkansas will teach students how to think, not what to think.
"This gets rid of the teacher pay scale & discourages teachers from pursuing further education."
This bill simply puts salary schedule decisions back in the hands of districts and won't reduce any teacher's pay one bit. The current statewide, one-size-fits-all approach doesn't let administrators tailor their salary schedules to do what's best for students.
"This will cost taxpayers far too much."
This bill uses a mixture of existing state funds and federal grants to fund the price tag. In fact, Arkansas is still on track to enact another tax cut. And of course, quality education systems pay for themselves many times over in the long run. Every kid deserves the opportunity for a quality education that sets them up for a lifetime of success.
"This bill forces every kid to go to government-run pre-K."
This bill does not mandate pre-K or government-run childcare. We simply want those programs to exist for the families who want and need them.
"Holding kids back won't solve the problem and hurts low-income and minority children."
When only 35% of Arkansas third graders can read at grade level, we are doing struggling kids a disservice by allowing them to go to 4th grade without the tools to be successful. This bill gives them the resources to succeed, including reading coaches, tutoring grants, improved pre-k, better learning measurements, and parental notification systems.
"Community service requirements hurt low-income kids who work to help their families."
Education isn't just about what you learn in the classroom; it's also about preparing the next generation to contribute positively to their community. In certain circumstances, this plan also allows waivers in cases of family illness, homelessness, or when a child contributes to their family's income.
"Your School Safety Plan contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline."
Parents know that putting law enforcement in schools makes kids safer, no matter what the Defund the Police crowd claims. This School Safety Plan pulls directly from the Arkansas School Safety Commission's expertly crafted recommendations and puts student safety over partisan politics.
"This bill mimics Florida's Don't Say Gay Bill and discriminates against sexual minorities."
Most Americans agree that young children shouldn't be exposed to obscene sexual content in the classroom. Clearly, you haven't read Florida's bill, and you have not read this one. This bill isn't radical or discriminatory - it's about protecting kids.
"This plan unfairly gives new teachers a bigger pay bump than veteran teachers."
This plan gives districts enough money to raise every teacher's pay. It's up to administrators to take steps to retain their employees.
"Paid maternity leave will cost the taxpayers too much."
Districts can either opt into this program - and cover half of the cost - or opt out. When teachers have to quit their job just to have a family, it hurts both school performance and the taxpayer.
"Without protection, teachers will be fired unjustly."
Nothing in this plan denies teachers access to due process if they have been terminated. This simply allows districts to terminate teachers who do not perform up to reasonable standards.