Arkadelphia News

Education package returns to Senate for final legislative approval

By ANTOINETTE GRAJEDA | Arkansas Advocate

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ sweeping education bill will again be considered by the Arkansas Senate Tuesday, following committee approval Monday.

Senate Bill 294, also called the LEARNS Act, is expected to clear the Senate and become law this week.

Sanders said in a statement that she’ll sign the bill into law as soon as the Senate approves the amended version. The Senate passed the legislation a few weeks ago, but because the bill was tweaked in the House, the Senate must concur with the amendment.

Making wide-ranging changes to the state’s education system has been a priority for the newly elected Republican governor. The LEARNS Act addresses teacher pay, school safety, career readiness, literacy, “indoctrination,” a new voucher program and a variety of other topics. 

Sen. Breanne Davis (R-Russellville) answers questions from fellow senators on Feb. 23, about the governor’s education bill, also known as the LEARNS Act. | John Sykes/Arkansas Advocate

Because SB 294 contains an emergency clause, the majority of the provisions would go into effect as soon as it’s signed into law. A few provisions would be implemented later this year.

For example, the repeal of the Teacher Fair Dismissal Act would be effective June 30. The creation of funds to support the bill’s initiatives, like an increase to teacher minimum salaries, would go into effect July 1.

Twelve members of the public provided testimony during the Senate Education Committee’s meeting Monday, including ten Little Rock Central High School students. 

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  1. If Republicans agree with it, it’s “education.” If they don’t, it’s “indoctrination.” Pathetic.