Dear Editor,

Get Ready as Arkansas Educators Prep for Vouchers and Raises. The idea of expanding School Choice is being touted by our Arkansas Legislature this spring. An article in the Arkansas Times by Austin Bailey, and the inaugural speech of our newly elected Governor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, provide a wealth of information. As Governor, Sanders made some very bold statements about her endeavor over the next four to eight years “to make Arkansas first in everything” and “not to be caretakers of the status quo.” The status quo is one change we are trying to change in our community when it comes to transparency involving special elections for school bonds. Governor Sanders continues by highlighting a “focus on reading, writing, math and science,” including a profound statement, “We want to identify ourselves as children of God and citizens of the USA and stop the political indoctrination of our schoolchildren.” Aren’t these the declarations we want to hear as parents and grandparents? Sanders also says, “Education is the key to open the door to liberty and education reform, to improve literacy, and to reward teachers with higher pay.” The Governor further proclaims, “Parents are the cornerstone of education and thus schools belong to us!” (The Governor is a parent of three young children.)How can all these changes to the status quo happen sooner rather than later as long as our school districts and our school boards have been indoctrinated and are under the control of the U.S. Dept. of Education? Our community school districts and school boards won’t change unless we, the community, push for the changes we want! To change the status quo, we need to support expanding “Arkansas School Choice.” Laurie Lee, a lobbyist and chairwoman of the board for The Reform Alliance, was bull-ish about changes she expects to see. She says, “Impactful education issues are likely up for debate at the Capitol this spring to include teacher raises, expanded pre-K, and the big one, ‘SCHOOL CHOICE.’ Campaign conversations and inaugural speeches confirm more students will likely be getting vouchers to private and church schools, and maybe even home schools. We don’t know yet what the forthcoming voucher proposal will be. ”The Highland School District enrollment in 2017-2018 was approximately 1632 student compared to1567 in 2022-2023––a loss of 65students in just five years. Is the Highland School District millage tax request appropriate at this time, in view of these trends in declining enrollments? You can voice your opinion by voting on Feb. 7-14, 2023.Also, let our area state representatives know where you stand on education and what kind of assistance (VOUCHER) you would appreciate. Contact your Arkansas State House Representative, Trey Steimel at 870-809-1788 and your Arkansas State Senator, John Payton at 501-250-5550.

Sincerely,

John Leible,

Highland School District Taxpayer

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