This afternoon a text message was sent to parents of an Arkansas private school eliciting stories of “how EFAs have helped Arkansas families.” According to the source who provided this screenshot, the text was sent from a number the school uses to communicate to parents about early dismissals, picture day reminders, etc. Today it was used as a PR effort from a Sanders-friendly nonprofit.
Opportunity Arkansas is a conservative nonprofit that has been a vocal supporter of LEARNS and Governor Sanders over the last year. The organization’s founder has proudly referred to himself as one of Governor Sanders’ “henchpeople.”
The group also puts out an obviously partisan “scorecard” for legislators with methodology that is questionable, at best.
The text parents received today sent a 10-question form telling them a member of the Opportunity Arkansas team will be in touch to collect their “education freedom story.”
Notice how these questions do not allow parents to tell their story in their own words, but rather require identification and a willingness to talk with one of the Opportunity Arkansas team members. When they reach out to parents, they elicit stories like those already on their website. They tell the individual stories of families benefiting from LEARNS while conveniently leaving out the data showing that the vast majority of families accessing vouchers were already sending their children to private schools. They forget to include the hundreds of dollars these families pay for tuition on top of the voucher money.
How did Opportunity Arkansas gain access to the parents of this school? Is this school the only one that has been asked to send texts on behalf of the organization? If there are others, is this the only method that Opportunity Arkansas is using to get pro-LEARNS stories for their propaganda?
Why This Matters
The LEARNS Act has been a wildly unpopular legislative effort forced into law by the Governor herself. Lawmakers were threatened with primary opposition and the defunding of their districts if they did not vote “yes” on LEARNS. As school districts continue to wade through the implementation of LEARNS, more problems arise, and more Arkansans realize the disaster it is for teachers and students all over the state.
We have proof that the Department of Education’s communications are being heavily controlled by the administration’s comms director. They have sent out questionable content for months that endorses the LEARNS Act with a partisan slant, pushing pro-school-choice propaganda from an executive branch agency.
Now the Sanders administration is leaning on nonprofit organizations to push its narrative that LEARNS is working, rather than the truth that it is failing students across the state.
We are only one semester into the LEARNS Act’s implementation with a three-year rollout planned. Sarah Sanders knows that positive public perception of LEARNS is integral to her political future and any hopes of being re-elected in 2026. With each new story of LEARNS sewing chaos, uncertainty, and strife in public schools across Arkansas, Sanders takes a political hit. She knows this, so she’s putting a willing nonprofit to work to tell the stories she wants to tell in the exact way she wants to tell them.
If you’ve ever needed proof that the LEARNS Act is losing popularity, look no further than these texts sent to parents.