Fueled by ADE’s track record, survey ignites suspicions of a hidden Oliva agenda

On AR Watch and For AR People have extensively covered the damage done by Education Secretary Jacob Oliva and his department’s ongoing threats to public education.

It’s no surprise to learn that the Department of Education may now be targeting the Arkansas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Arkansas School for the Deaf

KATV reports that a survey the Department of Education sent to school students and parents, which lacked proper and inclusive formatting for deaf and blind folks, has sparked fear and uncertainty.

Jeff Prail, an advocate for the Arkansas Association of the Deaf, expressed concerns about the state’s intentions and questioned the compliance of the survey with Americans with Disabilities Act Title II regulations.

Title II protects disabled individuals from discrimination on the basis of disability in services, programs, and activities provided by State and local government.

KATV notes that the timing of the survey’s release during the holiday break adds to recipients’ suspicions that Oliva may be pushing his agenda at the expense of our education system’s most vulnerable populations.

This past fall, a social media post from State Senator Clarke Tucker shed light on the dilapidated conditions facing the schools.

We don’t doubt it. Let’s do a quick refresh:

This past year, we covered: 1) Oliva’s involvement in Florida’s bid-rigging education scandal; 2) the Arkansas Department of Education’s role in propping up Sanders’ propaganda efforts; 3) Oliva’s attempts to smear Marvell-Elaine plaintiffs; 4) erasure of the AP’s African American History course credit option; 5) Oliva’s lowering of disability standards for private school families; 6) ADE’s quiet but devastating revisions to education best practices; 7) our state’s parroting of Florida’s detrimental education reform; and 8) bizarre moves within ADE’s higher ed department.

This is a sampling of the unprecedented decisions ADE made in 2023 and the negative, often statewide, impacts Oliva’s hidden agenda has caused. 

We can now add to the list ADE’s survey, which has its recipients in distress. Alone, the manner in which the survey was provided is unacceptable. But viewed through the lens of Oliva’s track record and the lengths to which ADE has gone to undermine public education in Arkansas, the survey becomes even more alarming. 

The body of evidence we’ve covered demonstrates the department’s opaque, unfair, and unethical education standards. As a result, it’s imperative Arkansans hold Oliva accountable.

It’s also important we scrutinize any potential threats Oliva and ADE still pose to public education in our state, particularly to institutions that serve people with disabilities. 

As KATV points out, the school’s families are rightfully afraid that the state may consolidate or even close the schools for the deaf and blind.  

In light of these revelations, it’s necessary Arkansans are informed about the consequences of Jacob Oliva’s leadership. Our Department of Education should prioritize open dialogue and transparency in its decision-making processes at every opportunity, but especially when decisions impact the education of students with disabilities.

If ADE can get away with removing protections and educational opportunities for the most vulnerable students, they will try to do so for other students later; indeed, they already did so with LEARNS.

Oliva and ADE’s latest bungle only adds to anger, resentment, and distrust for the department, which will further undermine the values of public education in our state.