As commissioner of the Arkansas Department of Education from 1953 to 1978, Arch Ford served under five governors. His vision was to expand educational opportunities because he believed education was the foundation for improving people’s lives. Throughout his career, he campaigned for increased educational funding, better-qualified teachers, and higher teachers’ salaries. Ford helped lead the state in peacefully integrating its schools and established twenty-three vocational-technical schools across the state. During Ford’s tenure, the Arkansas Children’s Colony was established to provide educational services to the developmentally disabled, and the Arkansas Educational Television Network was set up to provide instructional programming across the state.
The state also expanded educational opportunities to include kindergarten, special education, community colleges, and adult education. His leadership left Arkansas with a strong educational system that continued to advance. This was his legacy.