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Tipsheet

'Education Governor' Sarah Huckabee Sanders Signs Universal School Choice Into Law

AP Photo/Will Newton

After her bold overhaul of Arkansas' education system passed the state House (78-21) and Senate (26-8), Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed her Arkansas LEARNS education reform into law on Wednesday — fulfilling another key campaign promise she made while running in 2022.

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At the official bill signing ceremony, Sanders thanked her state's legislators for taking quick action on her education plan and said that, "When I put my signature on this bill and make it law, the failed status quo will end."

Wednesday's win for Sanders comes just eight weeks into her time as governor of Arkansas, debunking detractors' claims about her ability to move the sweeping bill through the state legislature and proving she's not in office to sit around and enjoy the benefits of being the state's chief executive. No, Sanders is clearly making use of her position to work on the priorities she was elected to implement, and do so at a breakneck pace that doesn't show signs of slowing. 

"Since I announced my run for governor, I've heard from so many Arkansas teachers, parents, and students who are ready to change lives," Gov. Sanders recounted before signing the bill. "There is no better way to do that then by fixing our schools," she explained. "That's why I promised to be the education governor, and that's why I prioritized it on day one, and today, that's why I'm proud to be delivering — along with my partners and friends in the legislature — on behalf of the people of Arkansas."

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Throughout her first two months in office, Gov. Sanders has said that she "will do what's right, not what's politically correct or convenient." She pointed to opponents of her Arkansas LEARNS plan who "have said this defunds public schools," but rebuffed their criticism saying "all the research shows that the exact opposite is true. Most families end up staying in their local school district," Sanders noted. "When parents are empowered to choose, all schools work harder to attract students," she continued. "Competition breeds excellence."

In addition to making school choice universal, Gov. Sanders' education reform also addresses issues Arkansas has had when competing with other states to attract teachers. Calling it a "lifeline" for educators, Sanders noted that her plan "raises the minimum teacher salary from $36,000 to $50,000 and gives every single teacher...in Arkansas a pay raise of at least $2,000." That boost for teachers' salaries means Arkansas, with the flourish of Gov. Sanders' pen, leapt from 48th in the nation for teacher starting salaries to a position in the top five. "An excellent education starts with excellent teachers," Sanders said, and her plan just made Arkansas a serious competitor to bring those excellent teachers to the state's schools.

What's more, Sanders' Arkansas LEARNS plan ensures that students in her state are not force-fed biased — and often racist — curriculum. 

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Gov. Sanders is on a winning streak that started with sweeping executive orders on her first day in office, saw her deliver a widely heralded response to President Biden's State of the Union Address, and brought her to signing one of the most ambitious education reform bills in history into law this week. And she did it all without burning political capital or ruffling more than the usual Democrat feathers in just two months' time. With that kind of red-hot start out of the gate, there's no saying just how much she'll get done for Arkansas in the months and years ahead. 

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