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Sanders speaks to students at Little Rock school choice rally

Josie Lenora
At the National School Choice Rally in Little Rock, children wave their "school choice scarves" after being coached into a chant by school choice advocate Corey DeAngelis.

The National School Choice Rally was held Monday at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. Students from over ten Arkansas schools gathered to celebrate Arkansas Parental Choice Week, created by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders through a proclamation the same day. The governor headlined the event with a speech.

“Our parents are the cornerstone of a child's success,” Sanders said. “And they must be part of the conversation, not an afterthought.”

The governor was light on describing specific policies she supported, but she did reiterate her commitment to school choice as a general idea. She talked about her LEARNs initiative, focusing on her desire to expand broadband access to rural areas and improve school safety.

The event involved children singing and dancing in support of school choice. Corey DeAngelis with the special interest group American Federation for Children led the schoolchildren in chants of “students not systems.” He asked them to wave their yellow school choice flags.

“It is a good time to be a national school choice advocate,” he said.

Laurie Lee with the Arkansas-based school choice group The Reform Alliance talked to KUAR after the event. She says she hopes to better educate students about her movement.

“They're valued in the education conversation,” she said. “And we want them to know it's in their best interest to seek the option that best fits their needs.”

The Sanders administration's support of school choice has received criticism from Democrats in the legislature, who say re-routing state dollars to private and charter schools would take money away from public education.

Josie Lenora is the Politics/Government Reporter for UA Little Rock Public Radio.