LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Education advocates from across the state of Arkansas are uniting in opposition to a school privatization bill. "If we want to solve the problems in some of these schools, we can do that, but we're not going to be able to do that with this bill," Richard Abernathy with the Arkansas Association of Education Administration explained.
House Bill 1733 looks to establish "the achievement school district." The bill would allow private charter corporations to take over schools or districts in academic distress, eliminating local control and cut out community input in the process.
"As a taxpayer, my money is going to some of the local public education, my taxes. I want to know what's going on with my money," Regina Von Tungeln explained. Von Tungeln is a parent with children in the White Hall School District and shared her personally testimony during the rally. She continued, "I love the transparency of the public schools, where I can go in. I can observe my children, I can go talk to the school board, I can attend the school board meeting. And I feel like this bill will take all of that away as a parent."
Alongside Von Tungeln, education advocates voicing their concerns. Even offering alternative paths to include community input and establish protections to make sure charter schools actually improve the districts they take over. Lake Hamilton Superintendent Steve Anderson said, "I encourage our lawmakers to remember they are put in the office to represent people, not a political ideology, not a political party and not private education corporations."
THV11 did reach out to Representative Bruce Cozart, the person who proposed the bill. He says he is glad there is opposition. In fact, he welcomes it. He did say he is working on amending it to better work for both sides.