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More U.S. Republicans Pushing “School Choice” Education Bill

As the U.S. continues showcasing its party divisions through different issues, more and more overlooked topics are being examined more closely. In a move to advance regulation of the education system, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is yet another Republican to push school reform through an agenda known as “school choice”. According to the governor, education is her “top priority” while in office, and it appears the governor’s making significant strides to show her dedication to the area.


To fully understand both opposition and support for the bill, we can take a step back and define how this bill plans to function according to Sanders’ plans for Arkansas. According to the bill, a group of policy changes is brought together, such as raising teacher salaries and banning teaching sexual orientation before the fifth grade as well as banning Critical Race Theory at all grade levels. The bill also proposes to integrate a universal school voucher program over three years so parents can choose where to have their children educated.


Generally, a state enforcing school choice means the state distributes school vouchers or scholarships. The state enforcement choice would mean that the state reallocates state funding to families who sign up for this program, meaning families have more control of their children’s education through private or homeschooling. If Arkansas moves forward with this bill, it would be the fifth state to enact universal school choice.


On the other hand, supporters of the bill say it encourages competition amongst schools and supports “funding students, not systems”. According to Corey DeAngelis, "Maybe government schools would do a better job if they operated more like businesses and had incentives to cater to the needs of their customers".


Despite Republicans and supporters of Sanders’ praising the bill and rapidity of the bill (the bill was filed on February 20th and, as of February 24th, is already being reviewed by the full Senate), there has been criticism of its provisions and the rapidity of its movement. Some Arkansan educators and parents criticized how there was very little time for the public to review the legislation and the possibility of educators even being involved in drafting the bill. Parents also claim that a push for private and homeschooling education would mean depleting even more funds from public schools that desperately need the resources. 


Acknowledging the criticism of the bill, Sanders’ office claimed that the bill has been available for public review since early February. Sanders herself has also claimed that those who oppose the bill are “mad that [the left] is losing control of the system”.


As the bill gains more attention and traction throughout the state and the nation, it’ll be up to both parents and state representatives to decide whether their children’s education moves towards a more private or all-encompassing education that is increasingly becoming a less popular education option for Republicans. 


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Tags: Government U.S. Policy School Funding Republican Democrat Arkansas Choice Sanders


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