The ultimate goal of the Institute’s Arkansas Education Policy Initiative is to create statewide education policy recommendations and actions that will improve the state’s national standing in K-12 educational outcomes. In addition to being an economic boost, we believe these recommendations could lead to more funding for education and an improved learning environment for students, families, and communities.

To date, more than 90 program partners (education leaders, K-12 and university administrators, educators, policymakers, advocates, and parents) have been involved in focus groups, working group meetings, and in-person summit meetings at the Institute. These participants have volunteered more than 1,500 volunteer hours of their time to review data, examine policies, and engage in respectful dialogue to identify collaborative solutions. 

The fourth in-person Arkansas Education Policy Initiative summit was held in November 2023. The fifth and final summit is scheduled for March 2024. If you are interested in attending this summit or getting involved, please contact Associate Director of Programs Payton Christenberry.

“Never once did I doubt that our top priority had to go to education. Our oldest problems are rooted there, and surely our brightest opportunities for the future are to be found there.” — Winthrop Rockefeller

This work provides an opportunity for the Institute to pursue its mission of continuing Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller’s collaborative approach to creating transformational change in the world of education policy in Arkansas — an area for which he demonstrated deep concern

How the Arkansas Education Policy Initiative Works

Four working groups meet biweekly to monthly to continue the work of the Arkansas Education Policy Initiative. Each working group has identified at least one two-year goal.

Identify and reduce barriers for educators, focus on educator retention strategies, examine pathways to education licensure, and focus on diversity and inclusion of educators.

Engage community involvement to broaden options for community improvement and education through a thorough examination of existing education resources in Arkansas specified by and curated for education professionals.

Demonstrate that a mastery-based education model can exist in Arkansas with the current policies in place.

The research, data, and public education arm of this program. Conduct meetings and trainings to educate policymakers and stakeholders so they can make informed and perform data-driven education advocacy.

Education in Arkansas: A Primer

This primer was created by the Initiative’s Policy in Practice working group and is intended to serve as a resource about the PK-12 education landscape in Arkansas. This primer includes general information about key education topics. The Policy in Practice working group is positioned to connect you with experts if you would like to know more.

Creating the Arkansas Education Policy Initiative

In 2021, the Institute was approached by potential partners with a desire to collaborate with a diverse group of key participants:

  • Education leaders
  • K-12 and university administrators
  • Educators
  • Policy makers
  • Advocates
  • Parents

In November 2021, the Institute hosted a topic dinner with 13 education and state leaders. Nine virtual focus groups were held in the following months, culminating in our first in-person collaborative session held on Feb. 22-23, 2022.

We believe this group can effectively identify policies to improve Arkansas’s K-12 education system so that it effectively meets the needs of our children and families, most likely at the level of the state legislature or the Arkansas Department of Education.

Contact Person

Shana Chaplin

Chief Program 727-6220