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Education/School Choice

School Choice – The Killing of Choice With Restrictions and Requirements

Many parents are holding out hope that Arkansas will adopt real school choice. “Real school choice” is one in which every family, regardless of income, has the ability to choose which school their children will attend.

The state of Arizona passed legislation allowing state tax dollars to follow the child to any school, whether to a government or private school. This is the model many Arkansas parents are hoping for.

But, even if legislation is introduced to adopt real school choice, parents must be on guard for restrictions and requirements that get into the legislation at the urging of the education establishment and big woke corporations. Even good sounding legislation can end up having little or no effect. To explain how restrictions and requirements can destroy a new law, lets look at the “Public School Choice Act of 2015.”

The Public School Choice Act of 2015 was promoted as a way to let dissatisfied parents move their children from the school district where they live to another public school district. (Note: The law has nothing to do with transfering from a government school to a private school.)

Despite the 2015 law sounding like a big step in helping parents, the law has so many restrictions and requirements that most parents who want to transfer their children will not be helped. The law has limitations on the number of students who may take advantage of the law and gives the public schools the ability to adopt regulations (restrictions). But of all the restrictions in the law, another restriction eliminates almost all potential transfers.

Lets see how the 2015 law would help (or not help) parents who want to transfer their children to another public school. Consider these examples:

  • As the school year nears, you discover the school district has been cited by the State Board of Education as a poorly performing school, and you want to send your child to a better public school district; or
  • In the summer before school starts, you find out the school has decided not to offer the course your child needs, and you want to transfer your child to an adjoining district where the course will be offered; or
  • Your child is suffering from being bullied at school, but the school administration is not addressing the problem, and you want to transfer your child to another public school district; or
  • Your child comes home and tells you her teachers are teaching about explicit sexual acts and the school is pushing students to choose their gender identity and personal pronouns, and you need to move your child somewhere besides this crazy school.

The 2015 public school transfer law sounds like it will help you but the details of the law say “Tough luck. You missed the deadline to apply.” The law wouldn’t help in any of these examples.

The public school transfer law says the application to transfer “shall be accepted no earlier than January 1 an no later than May 1 each year.[i] That means that you had to apply by May 1 of the previous school year. You are stuck for the full school year without the ability to transfer your child to another public school district unless you are financially able to move out of the school district.

Unless you are willing to endure problems for the rest of the school year the law is not going to help anyone who discovers any of the problems cited above. Oh, and remember the application deadline is only the beginning of the restrictions in the school district transfer law. No wonder it is so little used that apparently the education establishment doesn’t even bother to keep up with how many families use the transfer law each year.

BEWARE: The education establishment and big woke corporations will try to stop any legislation to adopt real school choice in Arkansas. If they can’t stop it, they will work to do what they did to the 2015 public school transfer law – kill its effect with restrictions and requirements.

The only way to truly stop the radical left’s influence on Arkansas public schools is to give parents, regardless of financial means, the ability to take their children elsewhere.



[i] A.C.A. 6-18-1905 (a)(1) Note: Prior to Act 490 of 2021 (SB147) the law only said applications could be submitted no later than May 1 of the year, but school administrators probably interpreted just as restrictive.

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