Understanding the EFA Webinar

 

UPDATE (4/16): Due to unforeseen circumstances, tonight's webinar has been postponed. You can click here to find more information about the EFA program or visit the Arkansas Department of Education: https://dese.ade.arkansas.gov/Offices/office-of-school-choice-and-parent-empowerment/education-freedom-accounts. If you need application assistance, please call us at 501-244-9028.

 

We’re excited to be hosting another online webinar about the Educational Freedom Account (EFA) program with the Arkansas Department of Education. We will cover the basics of how students can qualify for the program and how parents can enroll, but we also will have some important news and updates about the regulations that will govern the program in the 2024-25 school year.

Whether you’re in the program now, interested in enrolling in it for the fall, or just want more information about how the program can provide resources for K-12 education, please join us virtually at 7 PM Tuesday, April 16. You can register using this link. Please feel free to share it with anyone you know who might be interested.

See you on April 16!

TIME: 7 PM

DATE: Tuesday, April 16

VENUE: Zoom


Community Conversations April

Announcing Community Conversations

Community Conversations April

 

April is a special month for two very important communities. It is both Autism Awareness Month and the Month of the Military Child.

In recognition, The Reform Alliance is starting a series we are calling Community Conversations, and we are beginning with those we celebrate this month. These online events are intended to serve specific communities, though we invite anyone who is interested to join us. These events will feature guests who can share stories, offer helpful information, and plug families into programs and resources useful for their specific needs. These include:

 

12 pm Tuesday, April 23

Community Conversations: Autism Awareness and Special Needs

Register here!

 

7 pm Tuesday, April 30

Community Conversations: Military Families

Register here!

 

We hope you’ll join us for these special events and walk away connected to the support you need.


Understanding the EFA: Enrolling for 2024-25

7 PM March 26 webinar via Zoom

We’re excited to be hosting another online webinar about the Educational Freedom Account (EFA) program with Darrell Smith of the Arkansas Department of Education. We will cover the basics of how students can qualify for the program and how parents can enroll, but we also will have some important news and updates about the regulations that will govern the program in the 2024-25 school year.

Whether you’re in the program now, interested in enrolling in it for the fall, or just want more information about how the program can provide resources for K-12 education, please join us virtually at 7 PM Tuesday, March 26. You can register using this link. Please feel free to share it with anyone you know who might be interested.

See you on March 26!

TIME: 7 PM

DATE: Tuesday, March 26

VENUE: Zoom

REGISTRATION: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/8617095739641/WN_FD-ueiLNTHKNZ022sJZvVg

 


Understanding the EFA: More Options in 2024

Join us for an online Webinar at 7 pm Tuesday, Jan. 23 in which panelists will discuss the growth of the Arkansas Educational Freedom Account (EFA) program for the 2024-25 school year, including more eligibility for students and new allowed expenses within the program.

National School Choice Week 2024

Join The Reform Alliance and the National School Choice Awareness Foundation in celebrating National School Choice Week 2024 from Jan. 20 to 27! All events are FREE!

Jan. 20 - Little Rock

Join us for a school fair to celebrate school choice on January 20th from 10:00am – 2:00pm. Hosted at the Statehouse Convention Center, this event aims to bring awareness to families around the state about education options available with the LEARNS Act. Schools showcased will represent a range of education options like traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, and private schools, and you’ll get the chance to meet educators and get your questions answered to help you make the best and most informed choice for your family. This event will be fun and family-friendly, featuring a balloon artist,  photo booths, free food and face painters!

Register using this link: https://schoolchoiceweek.com/events/little-rock-school-fair-2024/

 

Jan. 22 - Batesville

Join The Reform Alliance for National School Choice Week's Get Hydrated Crafts Event at the Independence County Library in Batesville Monday, January 22 from 4:30-5:30 pm. Come out and decorate your new reusable water bottle to stay hydrated at school all year!
*Due to limited space, please limit participation to only one adult chaperone per ticket order. Water bottles and decoration supplies will be provided for participating children only.

Register using this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/national-school-choice-week-2024-batesville-tickets-781061123847?aff=oddtdtcreator

 

Jan. 25 - Jonesboro

Join us at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Forrest L. Wood Crowley's Ridge Nature Center for Kids Wildlife Discovery Day! Learn about Birds of Prey and the American Alligator, then enjoy crafts Thursday, January 25 from 1-4 pm.
Stop by our booth to learn about National School Choice Week and your options in education!
Programming Schedule:
1pm- Birds of Prey
2pm- The American Alligator
3pm- Crafts

Register using this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/national-school-choice-week-2024-jonesboro-tickets-781053139967?aff=oddtdtcreator

 

Jan. 25 - Star City

Come join us at the Star City Library to celebrate National School Choice Week 2024! In addition to sharing information about educational options in Arkansas, we will be awarding winners in a bookmark decorating contest for children on Thursday, Jan. 25, at 3:45 pm.

 

 

 


ADE Shares Cost of Maternity Lave for Teachers

The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education released a commissioner's memo announcing details of the cost-sharing program for teachers' maternity leave outlined in the LEARNS Act.

"Public school districts and open enrollment charter schools may elect to participate in a cost-sharing agreement with the Arkansas Department of Education, Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), to provide up to twelve (12) weeks of paid maternity leave for eligible education personnel."

Read the full memo: https://adecm.ade.arkansas.gov/ViewApprovedMemo.aspx?Id=5531&fbclid=IwAR0ofnsyVwxQQjFsyNbZX3_fJ7sbo1YLKG0iHDdk3I4RDH3M7Y96wsS0Cas


EFA Q&A October 24

7 pm Oct. 24 Virtual Town Hall EFA Q&A

Whether you are a parent who has enrolled in the new LEARNS Education Freedom Account (EFA) program or are interested in enrolling in the future, The Reform Alliance invites you to join us at 7 pm Tuesday, Oct. 24, for a virtual webinar and town hall. All parents are invited! Questions welcome during the event, but can also be submitted beforehand.
We will feature panelists Dr. Darrell Smith of the Arkansas Department of Education and Dr. Patrick Wolf of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Smith, who administers the EFA program, will talk about the current status of the program and how EFAs can be used, and Dr. Wolf, who studies educational freedom nationally, will talk about the growth and successful implementation of such programs elsewhere and what we might be able to expect in the future.

Register: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/1216975693102/WN_IRrx2wkKT9CbMBil10JHag

Submit questions beforehand: https://forms.gle/qqCnHh4dqoqyujFH7

 

More on the event:

The Reform Alliance, a nonprofit organization working to improve education for Arkansas students, will be hosting another event for families looking for educational resources, a virtual town hall at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24.

Panelists at the webinar-style town hall include Darrell Smith, assistant commissioner in the Office of School Choice and Parental Empowerment in the Arkansas Department of Education, and Patrick Wolf, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Education Policy and the 21st Century Endowed Chair in School Choice in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas College of Education and Health Professions.

“We have and will continue to focus on literacy, the first element of all the LEARNS initiatives,” said Emmy Henley, managing director of The Reform Alliance. “But there’s a lot to LEARNS, and that includes empowerment as well, so we want to share information on the state’s new Educational Freedom Account, or EFA, program for families already participating or considering participating in the future.”

The EFA program creates flexible spending accounts that allow families to direct funding toward required educational expenses. The program was launched this fall by the Arkansas Department of Education and includes around 5,000 participating students and nearly 100 schools.

“There is a misconception among some that the EFA is a voucher program, but that is incorrect,” said Henley. “EFAs are more flexible, and it’s important for families to realize that, particularly as the allowed expenses for EFAs expand next school year. EFA funds can be spent on more than tuition.”

Currently, only tuition, fees, uniforms, testing and other required school expenses at private schools are allowed in the EFA program under the LEARNS Act. But, beginning in the fall of 2024, those allowed expenses also include curriculum, tutoring, instructional material, educational devices and more, subject to approval by the Department of Education.

“Naturally, parents have questions. And while we don’t yet have final administrative rules for specifics, our guests will share what they can based on the legislative language in the LEARNS Act and make it as clear as possible for interested families,” said Henley.

EFA Q&A October 24


May Awareness

May is a special month that includes awareness for mental health, children in foster care and military appreciation.
We’d like to celebrate all these causes in the context of education with a special event featuring experts sharing advice and resources.
Whether you’re a foster or military family or your family has dealt with mental health issues in any context, please join us for this event to talk about these circumstances and learn about programs and services available to you.

Register here!


The Reform Alliance Hires New Communications Director

LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Reform Alliance, whose mission is to ensure every K-12 student in Arkansas has equal access to world-class education, has hired veteran communicator Spencer Watson to serve as communications director.

“We are excited to have Spencer join us to help tell the stories of students and parents who prioritize the value of education,” said Emmy Henley, managing director of The Reform Alliance. “He will help ensure the voice of The Reform Alliance is part of a conversation that begins and ends with how education impacts our kids.”

Watson is a 2003 graduate of the University of Arkansas. He has worked in media in and around Little Rock for nearly 20 years, including both journalism and communications. He has served at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and led communications at educational nonprofit the EAST Initiative. He comes to The Reform Alliance from the City of Little Rock, where he served as marking and communications manager.

“I’m thrilled to once again be working in education and helping to secure a better future for Arkansas students, one in which equity is of the highest priority,” said Watson. “As a product of Arkansas schools myself, I want to see today’s students guaranteed all the opportunities a solid education can provide, and I look forward to working with parents, students and educators to ensure they are.”