Arkansas Governor-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday named a Florida school official to lead the state’s educational agency.
Sanders appointed Jacob Oliva, senior president of the Florida Department of Education, to be secretary of the Arkansas Department of Education. She also said the state board of education will seek to appoint Oliva as a commissioner of elementary and secondary education.
Sanders praised Oliva’s “proven success in improving student academic achievement,” and said in a statement, “Expanding access to quality education for every child growing up in the state and empowering government bureaucrats We will empower parents without the government, and prepare students for the workforce instead of depending on the government.” .”
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The appointment suggests Sanders could emulate the education agenda of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, in Arkansas.
Florida came under intense scrutiny this year after passing a new law banning classes on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, as well as educational materials deemed age-appropriate.
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Calling the rule a “Don’t Say Gay” law, critics argued it underestimated LGBTQ people and said the law’s vague language could stifle discussion in the classroom. The law also establishes an enforcement mechanism requiring parents to sue the school district over material deemed inappropriate.
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Earlier this month, Sanders announced that Lieutenant Mike Hager, a 26-year veteran of the state police, would be named as secretary of public safety. In other recent appointments, Sanders named Kristy Putnam as the state’s new Secretary of Human Services and Hugh McDonald, former CEO of Entergy Arkansas, as Secretary of Commerce.