Carol Burris is the executive director for of the Network for Public Education. in this post, which she wrote exclusively for the blog, she reveals the details of Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ plan to defund and destroy the public schools in her state.

Burris writes:

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the daughter of Baptist minister and former Governor Mike Huckabee, missed learning the 9th commandment that prohibits telling a lie. As press secretary to Donald Trump, her distortions of the truth resulted in the editor of Forbes warning corporations against hiring Sanders and other Trump “propagandists,” writing, “Forbes will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie.”


Now she is the Governor of Arkansas. On her first day in office and in her response to Biden’s State of the Union, she parroted the old “education is the civil rights issue of our time” line that has been used to justify horrible policies from school closures to charter schools and vouchers. However, the disconnect between what she says and what she does quickly became apparent. On her first day in office, she issued an executive order prohibiting “indoctrination and critical race theory in schools” and another banning the term “Latinx” from being used in state documents. State authorities are investigating AP African American Studies at Little Rock Central High School, where the majority of students are Black.

If we need further proof that this self-proclaimed champion of Civil Rights is more aptly described as a champion of Civil Wrongs, look at her recently leaked ed reform plan.

Here are its features:


The Privatization of Public Education:

· Her voucher plan is a universal ESA—the plan now favored by the far-right. These plans have few rules and no family eligibility requirements. They have become Entitlement Spending Accounts–cash going into the pockets of private school families regardless of income. The leaked plan does not say how taxpayers will pay for it. But everyone will be eligible by 2025. It includes Voucher funding for homeschools. The only restrictions will apply to vendors, so those who enroll their children in those recently uncovered Neo-Nazi homeschools can find ways to cash in.

· Increased tax credits for contributions to an existing voucher program.

· Local School Boards can contract with an open-enrollment charter school or private company to run a school campus at risk of state takeover due to low performance—and if they do, they get a financial incentive.

· Establishment of a charter-school construction fund for new charters and expansion.

· Elimination of the cap on charters.

· Charter school applications no longer need to be reviewed and approved by the local school district board of directors.

· All students attending a public school can take courses and earn credit for classes not offered in their school. By the beginning of the 2025-2026 school year, students attending a public school that receives a letter grade of “C”, “D”, or “P” from the Arkansas School and District Accountability System may take their required courses (i.e. math, English, etc.) through the course choice program. Bet your bottom dollar that these courses will be online, with vendors like Stride K12 making a fortune.

Censoring and Controlling Curriculum

· K-3 literacy evaluation will be aligned with the “science of reading.”

· Before grade 5, teachers cannot provide classroom instruction on the following topics: sexually explicit materials, sexual reproduction, sexual intercourse, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

· School districts must implement an age-appropriate child sexual prevention program for grades K-12, allowing parents to preview materials and exempt their children from instruction. (I have no idea what a child sexual prevention program even is.)

· The Secretary of Education will review the Department of Education regulations, policies, materials, and communications to ensure they do not indoctrinate students with ideologies that conflict with the principle of equal protection under the law.

· No school employee or student must attend training on prohibited indoctrination or Critical Race Theory.


Harmful Policies for Students

· 3rd-grade retention based on deficits in reading proficiency.

· An accountability system for pre-school education that includes student data.

· Literacy testing three times a year for all students in K-3.

· Curriculum tracking in Grade 8.

· Community service requirements, which may, for some students, be challenging to meet.

· Mandated cops on campus.

· Career-ready pathways in partnership with local business and industry leaders” translate workforce training programs to track students into low-paying and middle-wage jobs.

Punitive Policies for Teachers


· Elimination of due process in dismissals.

· Base salaries will no longer increase by years of experience or for Master’s degrees.

· Bonuses based on VAM.

There are a few likable initiatives in her plan, such as paid maternity leave for teachers, but if she makes districts fund them even as she drains their funding with charter schools and voucher expansion, a good initiative will be one more financial pressure on already underfunded schools.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ education plan is a hodgepodge of all the awful and ineffective ideas proposed since No Child Left Behind. The fingerprints of JEB! and the Walton family are over the leaked legislation.

Despite its hodgepodge nature, one thing is clear—its ultimate intent is to destroy public education in the state by slamming a fist down on students, public schools, and their teachers while propping up a wild and largely unaccountable privatized system.