LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The leader of a group trying to challenge a massive overhaul of the education system in Arkansas says she not playing politics with the futures of students.
A petition to leave the fate of the Arkansas LEARNS Act in the hands of voters is one step closer to being on the November 2024 ballot after Attorney General Tim Griffin approved the ballot language on Monday, June 5.
Veronica McClane, the chairwoman of Citizens For Arkansas Public Education and Students (CAPES), contends her group’s efforts are not focused on party politics but instead is personal.
“I am not playing political games,” McClane said in an interview Tuesday. “My children attend public schools. I’m fighting for my children.”
She noted that CAPES still needs to get more than 54,000 signatures across the state for the petition to go on the ballot. Their goal, she added, is 90,000.
McClane said her main concern is the public education system, and specifically rural school districts.
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders appeared on the Dave Elswick Radio Show Tuesday morning and touched on how the LEARNS Act deals with those concerns.
“If anything, this will empower a lot of the rural schools by helping retain and recruit some of the best teachers around by jumping the teacher pay,” Sanders said, claiming the law is one of the biggest investments the state has made in public education in decades.
Alexa Henning, Sanders’ spokesperson, took to Twitter to address the fight to repeal the law.
“Gov. @SarahHuckabee spoke about LEARNS for two years while campaigning and promised to deliver bold, transformational reforms to our education system and that’s exactly what the people of Arkansas elected her to do,” she tweeted.
Attorney General Tim Griffin also provided a statement Monday after approving the ballot language.
“The legislature has authorized the Attorney General to reject a ballot title for only one reason: if it is misleading. Because this ballot title largely cuts and pastes at great length from LEARNS, I cannot conclude that it is misleading. I have therefore certified it,” the statement outlined.
Griffin noted that the ballot title’s 8,000-word length makes it the longest in Arkansas history “by a large margin.” He also indicated that the Arkansas Supreme Court may still reject the ballot title due to its complexity.