Arkansas Senate Votes to Create Voucher Program

Published April 24, 2015

The Arkansas Senate passed House Bill 1552, creating a school voucher program for children with disabilities.

The bill passed the state’s legislature with bipartisan support on March 31 and Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed the measure into law in early April.

According to the Freidman Foundation for Educational Choice, Arkansas is now the 25th state to adopt a school choice program. The program will allow parents to use public funding to send their special-needs children to the school of their choice. Scholarship awards will first be eligible for use beginning with the  2016–17 school year.

Dan Greenberg, president of the Advance Arkansas Institute says the voucher program is the first step toward providing educational choice for all families in Arkansas.

“Just a few days ago, Arkansas became a leader in school choice, when our legislature passed a measure that guarantees choice in education to disabled kids,” Greenberg said. “Especially in a rural state like Arkansas, in which our population is broadly dispersed, making sure that special-needs kids have the best of educational opportunities is crucial. And I look forward to the day that policymakers realize that choice will have wonderful consequences for everyone, not just families with special-needs kids, and expand this program accordingly.”

Chairman of the American Federation for Children Betsy DeVos said in a statement, “Parents and families in Arkansas can celebrate the passage of House Bill 1552, which will create new educational opportunities for children with special needs. We applaud the legislature for its bold leadership and putting the needs of students first by passing this important legislation.”

Heather Kays ([email protected]) is a research fellow with The Heartland Institute and is managing editor of School Reform News.

Image by woodleywonderworks.