Arizona Governor Doug Ducey continues to push for parental freedom. He announced yesterday that only schools that operate under state law and remain open would qualify for grant funding throughout the school year.
This means that schools cannot enforce a mask mandate nor close their schools after August 27 due to coronavirus if they wish to receive a portion of the $163 million that Arizona received from the American Rescue Plan. This equates to up to $1,800 per student in a K-12 public or charter school.
Ducey recognizes the right of every parent to decide what is suitable for their child — mask or no mask — and that teachers and schools do not have the authority to override state law that protects the rights of parents and students alike.
“Parents have worked tirelessly over the past year and a half to keep their kids on track,” said Governor Ducey in his official statement. “Parents are in the driver’s seat, and it’s their right to make decisions that best fit the needs of their children. Safety recommendations are welcomed and encouraged — mandates that place more stress on students and families aren’t. These grants acknowledge efforts by schools and educators that are following state laws and keeping their classroom doors open for Arizona’s students. My thanks to legislative leadership for working collaboratively over the last couple of months to put more money into K-12 education and ensure schools are in compliance with state law.”
Funds will be given through the Education Plus Up Grant Program to ensure more even distribution, as the federal allocation methodology resulted in significant disparities among schools.
The new grant program provides additional dollars to schools that didn’t receive as much federal funding.
According to the official statement, Education Plus Up Grant funding is contingent on being in full compliance with state law, including Laws 2021, Chapter 404, the FY 2022 K-12 Budget Reconciliation Bill for the entirety of the 2021-2022 school year.
Ducey understands that schools’ responsibility to students is purely educational. It is not the school’s right nor responsibility to choose for the children, as it has caused more harm than good. Many of the children impacted have been in low-income areas.
“We’re making historic, targeted investments to ensure all students across Arizona have access to new opportunities, help adult students connect with jobs, strengthen literacy education in K-12 schools, enhance professional development for teachers, and expand access to high quality education,” continued Ducey. “Students continue to excel in and out of the classroom as they recover from the effects of the pandemic and distance learning, and we will continue to put our resources toward helping them succeed.”
Ducey is also awarding $10 million to parents of students who have been adversely affected by schools’ responses to the pandemic and are now facing financial and educational barriers as a result.
The official statement from the governor’s office reads, “The funding will provide choice for parents who are facing financial and educational barriers due to unnecessary closures and school mandates and that are not in compliance with the provisions set forth in state law.”
Parents will be eligible for up to $7,000 per student, assuming they can prove that their income is 350% or less of the federal poverty level. Also, that their child’s school is “isolating, quarantining, or subjecting children to physical COVID-19 constraints in schools, such as requiring the use of masks or providing preferential treatment to vaccinated students.”
Ducey is committed to ensuring Arizona children receive proper education and are not discriminated against by their teachers and school officials.
“We are committed to keeping all Arizona kids on track, closing the achievement gap, and equipping underserved students and families with the tools they need to thrive,” Governor Ducey said. “Our COVID-19 Educational Recovery Benefit will empower parents to exercise their choice when it comes to their child’s education and COVID-19 mitigation strategies. It will also give families in need the opportunity to access educational resources like tutoring, child care, transportation, and other needs. We know that historically disadvantaged communities bear the brunt of excessive and overbearing measures, and we want to ensure these students are protected.”