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A former Arkansas Teacher of the Year announced Monday that he'll seek a seat in the Arkansas Legislature next year.

Jonathan Crossley, now a 29-year-old principal at Little Rock's Baseline Elementary School, said in an interview he plans to run as a Democrat in House District 41, a seat now held by Rep. Karilyn Brown, R-Jacksonville.

The suburban district includes parts of North Little Rock, Sherwood and Jacksonville, where Crossley said he lives with his wife.

While teaching English at St. Francis County's Palestine-Wheatley High School in 2014, Crossley was named the Arkansas Teacher of the Year. A native of Gaffney, S.C., Crossley said he moved to Arkansas and joined the Delta school district as part of the Teach for America program in 2010. Two years ago, he moved to Jacksonville and became a principal.

He said he plans to make educational initiatives, including universal pre-kindergarten classes and teacher recruitment, a part of his campaign pitch.

Asked about his thoughts on charter schools, Crossley said he would focus on supporting traditional public schools, while closely vetting the accountability of charter school applicants.

"A proliferation of charter schools is not what I am for," Crossley said.

That's one area where Crossley may differ from Brown, 70, who confirmed Monday she plans to seek re-election. Brown has voted in favor of charters and school voucher programs.

"I believe in making available a whole smorgasbord of opportunities to children and their parents," Brown said.

Brown encouraged voters to check out her own legislative voting record from her two terms in the House. She also welcomed Crossley to the race.

Asked whether he has any qualms about his opponent's voting record, Crossley said he was instead focusing on what voters in the district had to say. That includes, he said, learning more about the state's private-option Medicaid expansion program, and changes to it proposed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Crossley said he has yet to form an opinion of those changes.

Metro on 11/14/2017

Print Headline: Educator seeks District 41 seat

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