With the midterm election results in, Asa Hutchinson will become Arkansas’ 46th Governor. During the election season, we have kept you updated on the education issues in the Governor’s race; and so, today we will discuss how the election will impact education in our state.
As we discussed previously, as chief executive of the state, the next Governor of Arkansas will not only have the opportunity to make key appointments to lead the Arkansas Department of Education, but the Governor can serve as a vocal leader in education reform in the state. Therefore, based on Asa Hutchinson’s education platform, what should we expect to see from our next governor?
Asa Hutchinson’s education platform focused on a policy initiative to provide computer science classes in every high school in Arkansas within four years. Hutchinson’s plan calls for a computer science class (with an emphasis on coding) to count towards graduation requirements as a math or science credit. To offer the classes in districts across the state, Hutchinson’s plans suggests that the state will develop curricula for computer science classes and provide professional development for teachers.
Asa Hutchinson stated that as governor he will “request a thorough review” of the Common Core State Standards and the state’s adoption and implementation of the Standards (read our detailed report on the Standards and the subsequent debate surrounding the Standards here). While governors in other states that have sought to repeal the Standards (including Louisiana), it is important to point out that Hutchinson has not stated that he will repeal the Standards.
While Asa Hutchinson’s opponent, Mike Ross, campaigned to expand pre-kindergarten, Hutchinson’s plans call for Arkansas’ current pre-k program to be fully funded at its current state. The Arkansas Better Chance program subsidizes pre-k for students in families up to 200% of the federal poverty level. (Read more about pre-k in our recent blog post and policy brief.)
Hutchinson’s education platform calls for parental choice in education; and in doing so, Hutchinson stated that he supports charter schools for “their ability to innovate and provide unique choices in education for parents.”
- District Consolidation: In an October debate, Hutchinson suggested that he may be open to amending the current law that requires districts to close if enrollment falls below 350 students for two consecutive years. Out of concern for bussing and the impacts consolidation has on communities, Hutchinson stated that “he would support legislation to allow small districts to obtain a waiver from the law if they are performing well academically and are financially sound.”
- Teacher insurance: Hutchinson has stated that he will work with the General Assembly “ to ensure that our teachers have secure and affordable health insurance.”
To learn about these issues and others, you can watch our interview with Asa Hutchinson last spring (read about the interview here).
As the Arkansas House and Senate will be majority Republican, we can expect the Governor’s initiatives to receive support in the chambers. Furthermore, we can expect there to be other education issues that will surface during the 2015 General Assembly.
As always, we will keep you updated on Arkansas education news; and in the weeks to come, we will continue our series on issues that we expect the Arkansas Legislature to tackle during the 2015 General Assembly.