Weekly Columns

Education is a critical component for a successful future for our country. We need a strong foundation for students to develop their skills and abilities. Our children deserve the very best educational opportunities we can deliver. We need to offer Arkansas families the flexibility to provide an education to their children that meets their individual needs. 

As a former school board member and father of three daughters, I understand that state and local governments are best equipped to make education decisions for their communities – not Washington. I’m committed to empowering parents with the ability to choose the best education options for their children. That’s why I cosponsored the Senate-passed resolution recognizing National School Choice Week. 

I asked Arkansans to share with me why school choice is important. Crystal in Beebe wrote to me about her son, Hunter, who has high functioning autism. After being misdiagnosed for seven years, he missed out on very important critical skills because of discipline problems he was having due his anxiety. “School choice allows me to homeschool him as a result and I am very thankful for the opportunity,” Crystal said. 

Parents like Crystal rely on choice to provide their children with the education they need to grow into successful, productive members of society. Choice breeds competition. Competition among schools improves outcomes for everybody. 

I’m working with my colleagues in Congress to give families choices when it comes to educating their children. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is working on fixing No Child Left Behind. Since it expired over seven years ago, the committee has been working on different proposals and has held 24 hearings on K-12 education. The new Chairman, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), has said that he hopes to have a bill on the floor of the Senate by the end of February. This is a key vehicle to providing flexibility to states and to families so they can make the choices about education opportunities for their children. I look forward to contributing to this process and sharing what works in Arkansas. 

During National School Choice Week I had the opportunity to visit with students via skype at Haas Hall Academy in Fayetteville and LISA Academy in central Arkansas. Students at these public charter schools said having educational options was important to them because it allows them to be better prepared for their interests beyond high school graduation. Last school year, more than 16,000 students attended an Arkansas charter school. It is my hope that all different types of choice continue to expand in Arkansas and across our great country. 

When it comes to education, it’s important that we get the job done right. The U.S. ranks 17th in education worldwide. We need to update our education model. School choice is a sensible option to putting us on the path to improving education. I’m proud to support National School Choice Week and the outstanding educational choices that Arkansas offers.  Thank you to all those who work to prepare our kids for the best future possible.