(The Center Square) – Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ first appointee to the Arkansas Board of Education is a former Republican lawmaker who helped get the LEARNS Act through, according to the governor.
Sanders announced Ken Bragg as the newest Arkansas Board of Education member on Thursday. Previously, Bragg spent ten years as a state representative, where he also served on the education committee. His wife is a retired public school teacher, Sanders said.
Bragg worked on the LEARNS Act when it was in its infancy, Sanders said.
“There have been major changes to Arkansas education just in the last six months. Changes I know the Arkansas Board of Education is going to work hard to implement,” said Sanders. “Already we are raising teacher pay, rolling out a massive investment in student literacy, and giving education freedom to Arkansas families. It’s a complicated process, but with Ken at the wheel I know these changes will be quick, smooth, and effective.”
Signed into law earlier this year, the nearly $300 million LEARNS Act raises teacher pay and provides “Educational Freedom Accounts” for all students by the 2025-2026 school year. A court challenge stopped the act from becoming effective immediately. The state is asking the Arkansas Supreme Court for an expedited procedure.
Bragg said he was particularly happy to see the LEARNS Act create a dual career pathway so students can choose between working toward a career in technical or taking a traditional path to higher education.
“Twelve years ago as a freshman legislator I was really involved and interested in workforce development,” Bragg said. He tried to create a dual pathway for career and higher education back then but was shot down. “I was told at the time that this was not possible, [that] we didn’t have the flexibility to do that in our curriculum and our time schedules and so that idea died. Now, 12 years later, we have the opportunity to have a career path for certain students who want to go in that direction.”
Bragg served on Sanders’ staff earlier this year to help the LEARNS Act get across the finish line during the legislative session, according to the governor.
“It’s a humbling experience,” said Bragg. “It is an honor and privilege to be chosen for this position.