The Arkansas state Senate has passed a comprehensive education reform bill to promote parental rights, foster school choice and promote homeschooling in the Natural State.

The Daily Citizen spoke with Jerry Cox, founder and president of Family Council, the Focus-allied state family policy council in Arkansas.

“Family Council and our homeschool division the Education Alliance support the Arkansas Learns Act. We have always supported school choice and this is what the Arkansas Learns Act provides,” Mr. Cox said. “We are glad that Governor Sanders and her team have included homeschool families in the Arkansas Learns Act.”

The bill (SB 294), according to Family Council, “addresses multiple issues related to education – including public school teacher employment and salaries, critical race theory, [and] sexual material being taught in public school classrooms.”

The bill will “broaden school choice and include a plan for the state to adopt universal choice by the 2025-2026 school year.” In addition, SB 294 establishes “Education Freedom Accounts” to provide parents with vouchers worth up to 90% of per pupil funding for their child to take with them to a school of their choice – whether that’s a public, private or charter school.

Regarding school choice, Mr. Cox also told us:

Arkansas Learns provides another choice for homeschool families. Some will choose to remain as they are with no funding and no additional regulation. Others may choose to accept the funding and, with it, whatever requirements are established in Arkansas Learns. It should be a matter for each family to determine which form of education is best for their child.

We are pleased that Governor Sanders has provided another choice for homeschool families and that she is seeking to improve education in numerous ways. We hope all members of the Arkansas General Assembly will support Arkansas Learns.

The bill also “bans instruction on topics about sexually explicit materials, sexual reproduction, sexual intercourse, gender identity and sexual orientation in classrooms before fifth grade” and bans the teaching of critical race theory.

Family Council has said that it fully expects the Arkansas House to pass the bill in short order, and then for Gov. Huckabee Sanders to sign it into law.

After the Arkansas Senate passed SB 294, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement saying Arkansas is now “one step closer to unleashing the most bold, comprehensive, conservative education reform package in the nation.”

“[SB 294] will empower parents to choose the best school for their kid, improve childhood literacy, increase teacher pay to one of the highest in the nation, and prepare kids to graduate into high-paying jobs with the skills and training they need to be successful,” the governor added.

“Thank you to the Arkansas Senate for passing Arkansas LEARNS with resounding support. Let’s get it passed in the House and signed into law, transforming Arkansas education and serving as a blueprint for educational success across the nation.”

It’s extremely important for parents to be intensely involved in their children’s education. Parents must be aware of what their children are learning in school.

If you’re worried about what your child is being taught in school, check out the following resource from Focus on the Family: Back to School for Parents: A busy parent’s guide to what’s happening in your children’s classrooms and practical steps you can take to protect them.

Related articles and resources:

Back to School for Parents

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