Historic School Choice Program Gains Support in Arkansas

The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, applauds Governor Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Legislature for a compromise that consolidates support for House Bill 1222, proposed by Representative Jim Dotson.

“We would like to commend Governor Asa Hutchinson, Representative Dotson and other legislative leaders on their ability to come together and reach an agreement on this historic proposal,” said Ryan Cantrell, Regional Advocacy & Political Director for the American Federation for Children. “This bill will allow hundreds of children all over Arkansas to choose the education that works best for them, while also allowing time to see the effectiveness of the program.”

House Bill 1222 would create the first in the nation Tax Credit Education Savings Account Program.

Under the compromise proposal, HB 1222 would create a four-year pilot program with an annual cap of $3 million. Students participating in the program would receive funding equal to the foundation funding amount, which is $6,646 in 2017, to go towards their individual education expenses. Rather than only being able to use funds on tuition and fees to attend a private school, parents could use this program to pay for other educational resources like tutoring, summer programs, and textbooks.

“We are excited about the trajectory that Arkansas is on when it comes to school choice,” said Cantrell. “This innovative, first of its kind program, really shows their commitment to shaking up the education status quo in order to better serve students. We urge the Legislature to quickly pass HB 1222 and allow Gov. Hutchinson to sign the law so we can start the process of implementing this important program.”

The bill passed out of House Education Committee this morning and is poised to be acted on by the full House later this week.