Hundreds of students, parents, business leaders and politicians were on hand to hear about school choice and how to make education in Arkansas better.
Former Florida Governor (1999-2007) and chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, Jeb Bush, was the featured speaker.
He told the crowd that while he supports school choice, where children go to school should not make a difference.
"I know here the focus this year is on public school choice and that's great. Ultimately if you move to a student centered system, the delivery system is less relevant and it's how children learn and their success that should really be the entire focus."
The rally, held in conjunction with National School Choice Week, was hosted by A+ Arkansas, a group of concerned parents, educators and community leaders.
After the rally ended, the group moved on to the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown for the Education Summit part of the event.
Dr. Patrick J. Wolf is professor and 21st Century Endowed Chair in School Choice in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas College of Education and Health Professions. Wolf will join parents, educators, business leaders and policymakers to discuss the education crisis facing Arkansas. Attendees will also have the opportunity to play an active role in the discussion during Q&A sessions throughout the summit.
"The research record is strong: parental school choice improves outcomes for students, parents, and the broader community," Wolf stated.
Previously, Wolf taught at Georgetown and Columbia University. As principal investigator of the School Choice Demonstration Project, he is leading the impact evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program through a contract with the U.S. Department of Education (subcontract with Westat) and is overseeing a national research team conducting an independent longitudinal multi-method evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.
Other speakers include:
- Walter Hussman- Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of WEHCO Media, Inc.
- Bill Dillard- CEO Dillards
- John Bacon- Chief Executive Officer, eStem Public Charter Schools
- Michele Linch- Executive Director Arkansas State Teachers Association
- Jim Cooper- Chairman of the State Board of Education
- Leslie Hiner- Vice President of Programs & State Relations at Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
- Arkansas State Representative Mark Biviano (R)
- Arkansas State Representative James McLean (D)
- Arkansas State Senator Johnny Key (R)
- Georgia State Representative Alisha Morgan (D)
- T. Willard Fair- Chief Executive Officer of the Urban League of Greater Miami, Inc.
- Angela F. Shirey- Teach For America Director of Development
- Virginia Walden Ford- Executive Director of Arkansas Parent Network
- Luke Gordy - Executive Director of the Arkansans for Education Reform Foundation