Arizona is likely to become the first state in America that empowers students to take tax dollars with them to a school of their choosing.
Lawmakers sent House Bill 2853 to Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday. When the governor signs the bill, all of Arizona’s school-age children will be eligible for the Empowerment Scholarship Account. An ESA is a state-funded account that parents can spend on tuition and other education expenses. The program is currently limited to disabled students, those in failing schools or others that qualify in a handful of other methods.
A “Student Resources” page on the website of the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) directs pre-teens to LGBT sources of information and support.
“These resources are provided to assist in the support of LGBTQ students in our schools and communities,” according to the ADE. “They were collected by members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community as part of ADE’s Equitable and Inclusive Practices Advisory Council.”
The Arizona Department of Education announced it would award $15.3 million in funding for programs to improve the education quality it offers low-income and first-generation Americans.
“Parents deserve easy access to resources that help their children achieve their full potential,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said in a press release. “I know students and parents need more direct support when it comes to educational services outside of the classroom. These organizations are well prepared to support students and families and will help foster higher student achievement.”
Students in Arizona’s public schools failed reading and math assessments at higher rates this spring than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Test results from the AzM2 and MSAA – Arizona’s two statewide assessments conducted annually – show around oner-third of students who took the tests passed them, though the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) warns not to read too deeply into the low scores.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich responded to the Biden Administration’s interest in potentially reviving a pre-K and K-12 discipline policy based on race. The U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a request for information early last month, asking the public to submit written comment on the state of discipline in pre-K and K-12 schools. In the accompanying press release, ED alluded that it would form policy to reduce the number of certain demographics being disciplined at higher rates, specifically citing Black and disabled students. Public commentary for ED’s request for information closed last Friday.
In response, Brnovich organized a coalition of 15 other attorney generals to submit a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona opposing any discipline policy based on race. Brnovich asserted that a policy similar to the Obama-era discipline policy would be illegal. In 2014, the Obama Administration imposed a policy requiring schools to include disparate impact requirements within their disciplinary guidelines, referred to as the “2014 Dear Colleague Letter.” Brnovich recounted the history and cited several stories detailing failures of the policy, like students receiving no discipline for assaulting teachers.
The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) awarded Northern Arizona University (NAU) $1 million to teach culturally responsive education in tribal schools. The grant, awarded at the beginning of last month, will apply to professional development programs and fellowships for tribal educators.
“Believing in the power of teachers and the desire to grow their capacity to write and teach curriculum that is culturally responsive is at the forefront of the Institute for Native-serving Educators (INE)[,]” read NAU’s press release.