Education secretary concerned about Ducey plan to fund certain schools
PHOENIX — Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said Wednesday he was concerned about a plan from Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to provide extra federal funding to schools that follow state law and remain open for in-person instruction.
Cardona, in a letter to Ducey and Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, said he disagreed with a law in the most recent state budget that bans schools from requiring masks and other mitigation strategies aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. The law goes into effect Sept. 29.
Ducey announced Tuesday the state would provide the $163 million from the American Rescue Plan to districts and charters that abide by Ducey’s stipulations. Schools that qualify could get up to an additional $1,800 in funding per student.
“Arizona’s actions to block school districts from voluntarily adopting science-based strategies for preventing the spread of COVID-19 that are aligned with the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts these goals at risk and may infringe upon a school district’s authority to adopt policies to protect students and educators as they develop their safe return to in-person instruction plans required by federal law,” Cardona said.
Hoffman said she agreed with Carmona, one of several Arizona Democrats to speak out against Ducey’s plan.
U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona called Ducey’s move “absurdly dangerous” and “anti-science.”
“Until kids under 12 have access to the vaccine, what are parents supposed to do?” Sinema said in a tweet. “Just hope their kids don’t get sick and end up in the ICU?”
Rep. Greg Stanton sent a letter Tuesday to Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen asking the department to look into Ducey’s decision and how it would affect Arizona students.
The Governor's gambit to deny American Rescue Plan funds to schools following CDC guidance not only puts students at risk—it violates the law as written by Congress.@USTreasury should make clear that these funds should go to all schools. pic.twitter.com/eq6PDKpx8T
— Rep. Greg Stanton (@RepGregStanton) August 17, 2021
A group of Arizona lawmakers in Ducey’s own Republican party last week pushed him take action against public school districts that have imposed face mask mandates.
Among their demands were that Ducey withhold federal funding from districts with mask mandates and give their students vouchers known as Empowerment Scholarship Accounts that can be used at private schools. In all, at least 16 districts in Arizona are requiring students and staff to wear masks while indoors amid fears over the delta variant.
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