LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas Secretary of Education Jacob Oliva is adding another title to his growing list of responsibilities for schools in the Natural State.
The Arkansas Department of Education named Oliva as its Division of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Thursday.
He now serves a dual role as cabinet secretary and commissioner. Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders selected Oliva to lead the Department of Education, a position he assumed on Jan. 10.
A news release from the Department of Education said the department’s board selected him. A spokesperson said that his selection was based on his experience as an educator and education administrator.
“Mr. Oliva’s experience as a teacher, administrator, and department leader is quite impressive,” State Board Chair Ouida Newton said. “His dedication to student learning is evident in his leadership and efforts to implement successful programs and initiatives that support learning.”
Before joining the Sanders administration, Oliva had been interim commissioner of the Florida Department of Education. While there he oversaw the implementation of a parental rights bill that eliminated gender identity instruction in schools, which critics described as “Don’t say gay” legislation.
In her Jan. 10 inauguration speech, Sanders said she intended to be known as an “education governor.” She has signed two executive orders specifically targeting education since taking office, one on the same day she became governor.
The governor has promoted parental choice legislation as a key part of her education reform.
Significant education legislation is expected during this legislative session. An executive order signed by Sanders on Jan. 11, her eighth, set the groundwork for an omnibus education bill.