SCHOOL CHOICE PROGRAM EXPANDS
"The most callused aspect of the current education monopoly in Arkansas is that it willingly and deliberately forces children--except those whose parents have wealth--to attend bad schools.” Policy Foundation report,1 1998
(July 2019) Two measures enacted this year by Arkansas policymakers take effect this month and expand school choice options for K-12 students.
PA 5482 (sponsor: State Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle) allows private school students with "individual service plans." to participate in the Succeed Scholarship Program. Students with "individualized education programs" were already eligible for the program.
Created in 2015, the Succeed Scholarship Program provides "a scholarship to a private school of choice for students with disabilities" in accordance with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.).3
PA 10784 (sponsor: State Sen. Kim Hammer, R-Benton) allows students "in the foster care system" who have "achieved permanency through adoption, reunification, or permanent guardianship" to maintain eligibility in the Succeed Scholarship Program. The act states eligibility continues until the student "returns to a public school district or open-enrollment public charter school, graduates from high school, or attains twenty-one (21) years of age, whichever occurs first."
State revenue estimates of both acts concluded, "No impact on state treasury."
1 “Arkansas' Public Schools: A Thirty Year $20 Billion Taxpayer Investment Yields An Unprecedented Crisis in Academic Performance.”
2 Introduced as HB 1467
3 Policy Foundation research memo (March 2015) "Arkansas' First Private School Choice Program."
4 Introduced as SB 490