RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – Community members and educators in Russellville met Monday to gain a better understand the Arkansas Learns Act.

People in attendance had the chance to ask Arkansas legislators direct questions about the bill, putting an end to doubt in how it will work for some and leaving more questions for others.

“If I could be known for anything, I hope to be known as the education governor,” Gov. Sanders said.

“We’re going back to making sure can the kid answer and do the math,” Jacob Olivia, secretary of education said. “Do they know the basic foundations and stop chasing the shiny things.”

Leaders said they know the value of Arkansas students along with the teachers who guide them, and the bill is to push them both toward success, but some teachers wanted a further breakdown.

“I’m curious about how third grade reading comprehension will be assessed,” Madison Buford, a third-grade teacher said.

“The assessment does carry weight, but there are a lot of children that don’t test well and that shouldn’t be the deciding factor,” Olivia stated.

Buford said she’s glad that the needs of students are being put first.

“I was really pleased with the clarification I got on that,” Buford said. “It is my understanding that third graders who are not reading on a certain level will receive additional support.”

Some participants in the event still had concerns and unanswered questions.

“It’s very disheartening when they start out making within $4,000 of what you make and you’ve been there 25 years,” retired teacher Debbie Hatcher said.

Sanders said there is a guaranteed $2,000 pay increase for all teachers of the state and that’s where the flexibility for districts come into play. 

“I know that people don’t go into teaching simply for the paycheck. They go because they have a passion for helping kids succeed,” Sanders concluded.

This is the third district the governor has held an open town hall in and said her administration plans to meet with every superintendent in all districts across the state.