LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas Governor-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced on Thursday who she intends to nominate as Department of Education secretary.
Huckabee Sanders said Jacob Oliva will be her Department of Education nominee. Oliva is currently a Senior Chancellor, Division of Public Schools for the Florida Department of Education.
The governor-elect said she intends to work in partnership with the State Board of Education to appoint Oliva to serve in a dual role as the department secretary and Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. His expected nomination will mark the end of current Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key’s term after his 2019 appointment by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
In a statement accompanying the announcement, Huckabee Sanders indicated Oliva will oversee changes to the department.
“Education is the foundation for success, and, with my nominee for Secretary of Education and Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jacob Oliva, we are ready to transform Arkansas education with bold reforms that will empower every kid to succeed,” Sanders said.
The governor-elect also cited her Arkansas LEARNS plan, introduced during her campaign.
“Through my Arkansas LEARNS plan, we will expand access to quality education for every kid growing up in our state, empower parents, not government bureaucrats, and prepare students for the workforce, not government dependency, so everyone has a shot at a better life right here in Arkansas,” Sanders said.
The program cites a need for increased literacy for students, as well as an increase in parental choices.
The Oliva announcement noted his service for the Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis administration. DeSantis was re-elected as governor in November with 59.4% of the vote, called “the largest margin by a Republican candidate for governor in modern Florida history” by the New York Times.
During DeSantis’s first term as governor, laws were passed to prohibit the teaching of gender and sexual orientation to early elementary students with further limits on lessons about racism. Florida also passed a bill significantly expanding school choice in the state.
“Governor-elect Sanders has the right vision to unleash Arkansas education, and I’m excited to get to work on day one to enact it,” Oliva was quoted saying in the Thursday announcement.