Newly-elected Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Trump White House press secretary, announced plans to hire a Florida education official to reform education in Arkansas. Jacob Oliva, currently the senior chancellor at Florida’s Department of Education, has served in the state education agency since 2017.
Sanders tweeted, “He is a leader who has proven himself in the fight to empower parents and implement bold education reforms under Governor [DeSantis] and we are ready to transform Arkansas education.”
Politico reported the news of Oliva’s nomination and noted that Oliva managed issues such as school safety, school choice, and early learning. He served under Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and implemented a parental rights in education law. Before Sanders’ announcement, Oliva applied to work as the Miami-Dade County’s school superintendent.
Prior to working as a senior chancellor, Oliva was an elementary school teacher, school principal, and county superintendent.
By all indications, Oliva’s nomination signals Sanders’ intent to copy DeSantis’s education agenda for the state of Arkansas. Considering DeSantis’s popularity in the Sunshine State, and the rumor mill about his 2024 presidential ambitions, it appears to be a wise decision for Arkansas to follow Florida’s education model.
Sanders won election by a large margin of 28% in the 2022 gubernatorial election to succeed the term-limited Gov. Asa Hutchinson. She became the first female governor in Arkansas’ history.