A national school survey by organizations that support democratically governed, traditional public schools gives Arkansas an F.

The report is from the Schott Foundation and the Network for Public Education.

The study gave grades in three areas:

* OVERALL, where Arkansas got an F.  This score was based “on the extent
of privatized school choice in the form of vouchers, neo-vouchers and charter schools, as well as the quality of the state’s laws that promoted accountability,
oversight, transparency and civil rights.”

* VOUCHERS, where Arkansas got a C+. Our voucher programs are currently limited to supposedly special needs children (though there’s some dispute about the rigor of the classification.) But the push for vouchers disguised as “scholarships,” in which rich people can designate THEIR state income tax money for private school tuition is on the rise. The study notes Arkansas is among the least accountable for vouchers that exist and that it doesn’t require background checks on teachers in voucher schools.

* CHARTER SCHOOLS, where Arkansas gets an F. There are a range of problems for chater schools, from exemption from certification rules to lack of transparency. Also lacking are civil rights protections for LGBTQ students.

What makes an A school?

States earned an A+ rating for successfully putting all of their resources to supporting public schools and successfully resisting public funding for privatized alternatives. The states with the best overall grades for resisting school privatization are predominantly rural states with a strong commitment to community public schools and an aversion to public dollars leaving already cash-strapped rural
schools.

Some of this depends on perspective. Where the Schott Foundation gives Arkansas an F, the Billionaire Boys Club, intent on tearing down the broad fabric of public education in favor of a crazy quilt of privatized options, would give the state an A.