linda chesterfield

Arkansas lawmakers to complete higher ed DEI study by end of 2024

BY: - August 25, 2023

The Arkansas Legislative Council on Friday authorized a subcommittee to conduct a study regarding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in Arkansas colleges and universities by the end of 2024. The study was requested by ALC Higher Education subcommittee co-chair Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Jonesboro, who on Thursday announced plans to study the issue with the intention […]

Arkansas senator discusses plans for DEI legislation in 2025 session

BY: - August 24, 2023

Arkansas officials are collecting information on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts at colleges and universities in preparation for presenting legislation on the issue during the 2025 legislative session. At a meeting of the Arkansas Legislative Council’s higher education subcommittee on Thursday, co-chair Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Jonesboro, told lawmakers that officials are looking at DEI […]

Courtney Salas-Ford and Andrés Rhodes sitting at a table

Arkansas school voucher program rules clear first legislative hurdle

BY: - July 17, 2023

The Legislature’s Joint Education Committee on Monday recommended approval of proposed emergency rules that will govern the state’s new school voucher program. The recommendation will next be considered by the Arkansas Legislative Council’s executive subcommittee Thursday.  Created under the LEARNS Act, the Educational Freedom Account program provides up to 90% of the annual per-student funding […]

Panel approves raises exceeding 1,400 Arkansas state employees’ pay grades

BY: - June 16, 2023

Arkansas lawmakers approved merit-based pay raises on Friday for roughly 1,400 state employees who will now receive more than the maximum salary allowed for their pay grades. The Arkansas Legislative Council on Friday approved its Uniform Personnel Classification and Compensation Review subcommittee’s Wednesday decision with no debate and no audible dissent. Wednesday’s vote also had […]

Bill to save Arkansas Delta school from consolidation awaits governor’s signature

BY: - April 6, 2023

A small Delta community is hopeful a bill the Arkansas Senate sent to the governor’s desk Thursday will save their school from closing. The Marvell-Elaine school district in rural Phillips County is scheduled to be consolidated this year under the nearly 20-year-old Public Education Reorganization Act, which requires the Arkansas Department of Education to publish […]

Rep. Mindy McAlindon on the House floor

Arkansas Parents’ Bill of Rights legislation pulled for amendments

BY: - April 5, 2023

Both the chair and co-chair of the Senate Education Committee voiced displeasure Wednesday afternoon when they were presented a multi-page amendment to House Bill 1738 that wasn’t properly prepared. Sponsor Rep. Mindy McAlindon, R-Centerton, said there were multiple amendments because she worked with the governor’s office to ensure there were no discrepancies between HB 1738 […]

Pronoun restrictions in Arkansas schools head to Sanders’ desk

BY: - April 5, 2023

Arkansas public school teachers and professors will be required to use the pronouns and names students were assigned at birth, unless parents specifically allow them to do otherwise, if Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signs House Bill 1468 into law. The Senate approved the bill along party lines Wednesday. It would require written permission from a […]

Arkansas Senate panel OKs tweaked bill barring implicit bias training in schools

BY: - March 29, 2023

A state Senate committee on Wednesday approved a new version of the bill that aims to prohibit public schools and colleges from requiring employees to participate in implicit bias training. House Bill 1559 prohibits schools from taking “adverse employment action” against an employee who fails or refuses to participate in implicit bias training. The State […]

Proposed restrictions on transgender pronouns in Arkansas schools head to Senate floor

BY: - March 29, 2023

The Arkansas Senate will consider requiring public school teachers and professors to use the pronouns and names students were assigned at birth unless parents specifically allow them to do otherwise. House Bill 1468 would require written permission from a minor’s parent or guardian for school employees to use any “pronoun or title that is inconsistent” […]

Sen. Clarke Tucker, Sen. Breanne Davis

Arkansas lawmakers send sweeping education bill to governor’s desk

BY: - March 7, 2023

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will sign her signature education package into law Wednesday, two weeks after the bill was filed.  The Arkansas Senate gave final approval to Senate Bill 294, also called the LEARNS Act, on Tuesday. “I’m ready to sign it into law tomorrow and end the failed status quo that has governed our […]

Sen. Breanne Davis of Russellville, lead sponsor of Senate Bill 294, which would enact the governor’s education program, looks at Education Secretary Jacob Oliva, right, as he answers questions about the bill during a meeting of the Senate Education Committee Wednesday morning, Feb. 22, 2023, in Little Rock. (John Sykes/Arkansas Advocate)

Arkansas governor’s education package advances to Senate

BY: and - February 22, 2023

The Senate Education Committee after more than five hours of testimony Wednesday approved Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ sweeping education plan over bipartisan calls for amendments. Dozens of teachers, students, parents and administrator groups testified at the occasionally tense hearing. Senate Bill 294, also called the LEARNS Act, is the culmination of Sanders’ chief priority to […]

Arkansas Senate approves bill to hold libraries accountable for ‘obscene’ material

BY: - February 22, 2023

A bill that would open the door to criminal liability for the distribution of “obscene” content by school and public libraries passed the Arkansas Senate on a party-line vote Wednesday and will next be considered by the House. All six Senate Democrats voted against Senate Bill 81, and 27 Republicans voted for it while two […]