A new bill would re-direct public school tax dollars to private schools. This voucher scheme sets the entire state down a dangerous path. It amounts to Arkansas abandoning its responsibility to provide a quality public education for every student in our public school system.
Last minute legislation backed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson (SB 620) is drawing widespread condemnation from Pulaski County families and legislators. This “pilot” program for 500 students in Pulaski County can be expected to spread to the rest of the state.
State Sen. Joyce Elliott and Democratic legislators joined together at state Capitol on Monday, to speak out against SB 620. They also expressed support for SB 553, which details a pathway to return state-run school districts to local control.
“The well being of our children is my only concern,” said state Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock). “Arkansas needs to embrace a long-range vision for creating a world-class education system for all of our students. But unfortunately, this voucher program disguised as a ‘scholarship’ is nothing more than a transfer of public tax dollars to private schools, for the benefit of a few. It’s the latest in a series of efforts to privatize our public schools.“Instead, we need to focus on developing the main components of a world-class education: equity, high quality Pre-K, well-prepared teachers, rigorous standards, and clearly aligned, coherent curriculum,” said Sen. Elliott.
Freshman state Representative Tippi McCullough (D-Little Rock) drew an ovation for her remarks.
“I wish we lived in a state where we could find ways to find money to lift up our public schools, instead of finding ways to find money to give away to private schools,” said Rep. McCullough. “We all pledge to turn that around.”
Both bills are expected to be heard this week in the Senate Education Committee.