Governor Sanders reveals her big plan for education reform
3 min read

Governor Sanders reveals her big plan for education reform

Next Gen
Feb 8
3 min read

On the heels of her address to the nation last night–and flanked by dozens of state legislators, including legislative leadership–Governor Sarah Sanders hosted a briefing today to announce significant details of her education reform package.

(Sanders released a detailed vision for education reform during the campaign, but it has taken some time to bring state legislators and other stakeholders into the sausage-making process.)

Although bill language is still being finalized, here’s what we learned:

The Sanders education plan is much broader than “just” educational freedom 

Sanders’s plan also includes significant pay raises for Arkansas teachers, an increased focus on career readiness, a renewed focus on school safety, and important outcomes-focused reforms like tutoring, early literacy, and early intervention for students who are falling behind.

Some highlights:

  • 120 literacy coaches will be deployed across the state to low-performing schools
  • Young struggling readers will receive additional reading support including a $500 literacy tutoring grant
  • Schools will undergo crisis response and mental health awareness training
  • The minimum teacher salary will be increased from $36,000 to $50,000; all teachers will receive a raise and good teachers will be rewarded with merit bonuses
  • All students will be required to complete 75 hours of community service in order to graduate from high school
  • New workforce initiatives, like a dual track diploma and workforce dashboard for job seekers
  • The Teacher Fair Dismissal Act will be repealed

And then, the most transformational component of Sanders’s plan: empowering parents.

The Sanders education plan creates universal educational freedom for all Arkansas families

Under Governor Sanders's plan, Arkansas families will finally be able to send their kids to a school of their choice, regardless of income or zip code. Arkansas will fund students over systems.

Some of the details we have at this point:

  • Education Freedom Accounts will be available for every Arkansas family to choose the school that best serves the needs of their children
  • The universal choice program will be phased in over three years, fully in effect for the 2025-2026 school year
  • The state will create an Innovation Transportation Fund to “modernize transportation routes and resources”

There is certainly much more analysis to be done and more details to be revealed. But for now, it’s safe to say Governor Sanders intends to deliver on her promise to be the “Education Governor” and deliver transformational change that Arkansas students have needed for decades.

We’ll have more analysis in a special edition of (non)Debatable tomorrow, our insider newsletter. Don’t miss it: sign up at

Image of the story authorNicholas Horton
Founder & CEO

Nic Horton is a native Arkansan and Founder & CEO of Opportunity Arkansas. He has spent more than a decade in the conservative movement as an expert on election, disability, tax, welfare, and workforce reform.

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