Melissa Mellor

Arkansas Governor Approves Whole Child Legislation!

Arkansas Governor Michael Beebe signed a new bill into law that promotes a whole child approach to educating the state's children. The legislation (PDF) establishes a Whole Child Whole Community recognition program and aims to measure the comprehensive well-being of children and how well stakeholders are meeting their needs according to the five whole child tenets (healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged) and their indicators as identified by ASCD.

The recognition program will acknowledge and highlight the work of Arkansas educators, parents, community members, and policymakers who support the whole child. A diverse state working group will recommend a framework and process for recognizing exemplary whole child and whole community successes.

The legislation also indicates that one purpose of the recognition program is to help spur systemic collaboration and coordination within and beyond schoolhouse doors and to promote a shift from narrowly defined student achievement and traditional education reform to broader, more comprehensive efforts that recognize the crucial out-of-school factors that influence teaching and learning.

Senator Joyce Ann Elliott—a longtime advocate for whole child education—sponsored the bill, which was drafted with support from Arkansas ASCD and input from ASCD. Matt McClure, Arkansas ASCD's legislative chair and superintendent of Cross County School District, thanked Elliott, Gov. Beebe, and the bill's cosponsors and said that Arkansas ASCD looks forward to working with the entire Arkansas education community to ensure that whole child education remains the number one priority for the state.

The bill is one in a series of recent legislation that encourages whole child education across the nation. Earlier this month, Rhode Island passed a joint resolution (PDF) supporting a whole child approach. In 2012, Illinois designated March Whole Child Month.

Learn more about ASCD's Whole Child Initiative and see the whole child tenets and indicators.

Become an advocate for education! Join Educator Advocates to get informed about the education policy and politics that affect your day-to-day work, get involved by joining with colleagues to help lawmakers make the best education decisions, and make a difference for our schools and our students.

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