SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – In the spring, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed the ‘L.E.A.R.N’ Act and a non-partisan group wants the act vetoed on the grounds that it would funnel public education funds into private and charter schools.
L.E.A.R.N stands for Literacy, empowerment, accountability, readiness, networking, and school safety. “LEARN” benefits the private education system and its teachers which includes raising their minimum pay to $50, 000.
According to Citizens for Arkansas Public Education and Students, better known as “CAPES” they say the omnibus education bill is “taking money from the public education system and allocating it to private schools to charter schools and home schools.“
They started a drive-thru petition “Say No To Learn” which would allow the people of Arkansas to vote on the issue. Hundreds of volunteers will work the drive-thru petition across 26 counties to registered voters.
CAPES will host a drive-through and sign at the Capitol in Little Rock this evening, 5-7 p.m.
“We believe that the constitution of Arkansas provides- it says that public tax money is to be used for public education. This bill clearly takes public tax money and gives it to private and charter organizations,” Executive Director of CAPES, Steve Grappes said.
One of CAPES’s major concerns is that the bill includes the Fair Teachers Dismissal Act which gives school boards the ability to resign and modify a teacher’s position; and the Transformational Contract.
“If they deem the school is failing they can literally come in and award a contract for a private or charter school to take over the administration of that school… the rules are then taken out from the parents,” Grappe said.
Grappe wants the Arkansas voters to have the opportunity to vote on whether or not they want LEARNS to be the law of the land.
“We believe the citizens of Arkansas have the right to put this on the ballot and take a vote on something that is going to cost BILLIONS of dollars to our economy, and we should have a vote on whether that happens or not,” Grappe said.
Grappe said in order to veto the bill, they need 54,000 signatures from 50 counties, and if they’re successful, it will pause the legislation until November 2024.
The Arkansas Department of Education was not available to comment.