Arkansas votes in favor of education pilot program

The Associated Press
Staff Writer

LITTLE ROCK (AP) — The Arkansas Senate has cleared legislation that would authorize a state pilot program to create education savings accounts for students.

The proposal would establish education savings accounts worth about $6,700 per year for students, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

The legislation would allow parents to spend education money as they see fit, with funds paid by nonprofit organizations to education providers. Expenses covered would include private school tuition, textbooks, testing, college, summer programs, speech pathology, transportation and uniforms.

"Our constitutional responsibility is to fund a free public education for all children," said Republican Sen. Blake Johnson, the bill's author. "This program will not destroy our responsibility to the children from Arkansas.

Democrat Sen. Joyce Elliott opposed the bill, saying: "What's bad about this whole thing is we don't have a plan for education in our state."

Republican Senate leader Jim Hendren said the bill would be an opportunity to encourage "all of our schools, our charter schools, our private schools, our home schools and our public schools to strive for excellence."

The Senate voted 22-5 to clear the bill on Tuesday. It will be sent to the House for further consideration, though similar legislation failed to pass the House last week.

Legislation on education savings accounts has been passed in five states, including Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee.


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