It began a few weeks ago: the back-to-school memes.
One featured dejected kids dressed in new school clothes waiting for the bus while elated parents look forward to an empty house. My favorite meme so far is one with a mom in mid-kick, child flying through the air toward a waiting school bus. Freedom, at last.
Arizona’s historic legislation expanding school choice to every child in the state appears likely to be placed on hold right now, as a ballot measure aimed at stopping the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) expansion will probably make the 2024 ballot. Save Our Schools Arizona (SOSAZ) said its signature collectors turned in 141,714 signatures for “Stop Voucher Expansion” to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office on Friday. Only 118,823 valid signatures were required by Sept. 24, leaving plenty of room for error with bad signatures.
Jenny Clark, the founder of Arizona-based Love Your School and a new appointee to the Arizona State Board of Education whose children participate in the ESAs, told The Arizona Sun Times, “Today 11,000 Arizona students had the opportunity of an ESA put on hold. Every day that a child struggles in a school that’s not working for them is detrimental. But this is far from over. We will be monitoring the signature verification process, and continuing to walk alongside Arizona families and their children.”
This school year started unlike any other for children across the country, many of whom began the year staring at a computer screen. Yet for the minority of students who were able to start the year at an independent school, their education was minimally impacted, with most continuing with in-person classes. It’s unfortunate that some students are being forced to go virtual for their education, with some public school districts refusing to reopen classrooms until the beginning of the next school year. What’s even more unfortunate is the reason for these decisions to keep classrooms closed may not be based on safety and science but sheer political influence.