Last week, SB294 — also known as the LEARNS Act — was filed and, after much debate, was passed by the Arkansas Senate. The bill brings to fruition many of Governor Sarah Sanders's education reform proposals from her statewide campaign.
Opportunity Arkansas Foundation recently conducted a groundbreaking new education poll that asked voters about the core components of the LEARNS proposal.
Here are some key takeaways:
- Arkansas voters across the political spectrum overwhelmingly support school safety measures like school districts notifying the state of any serious allegations involving a teacher (76% support) and expanding other safety training measures (70% support).
- Voters approve of plans to better prepare Arkansas’ kids for the workforce through a Arkansas workforce dashboard (74% support) and dual track diplomas (62% support).
- Arkansans are supportive of efforts to recruit and retain high-quality teachers, such as pay increases (70% support), paid maternity leave (64% support), and free college tuition for teachers who work in targeted areas (67% support) — but also support holding poor performing teachers accountable by making it easier for districts to terminate problematic teachers (65% support).
- Voters strongly oppose teaching controversial topics in the classroom like sexually-charged material (17% support; 62% oppose) and Critical Race Theory (12% support; 50% oppose).
- Last but not least, a majority of Arkansas voters want parents to be able to use a portion of their tax dollars to send their kids to the school of their choice, a critical component of LEARNS.
Other items earning high voter support include individualized intervention plans for those falling behind in math (70%), deploying literacy coaches to low-performing schools (57%), and providing grants for high-impact tutoring (54%).
Critically, almost all components of the LEARNS plan draw majority support, with not only strong support from Republican voters but also consistent approval from Independents and even many Democrats.
To see the full poll results, click here.