Arizona 2021 Year in Review – Education Opportunity

PHOENIX, AZ (STL.News) Arizona continued to pave new opportunities and create additional choices in education this year, solidifying the state’s reputation as a national leader in school choice.

Under the leadership of Governor Doug Ducey, Arizona continued to expand options for students of all ages while consistently advocating for in-person learning.

Governor Ducey continued to prioritize “Opportunity for All” this year, signing legislation enabling community colleges to offer four-year degrees.  Community colleges are critical for equipping the workforce with much-needed skills.  Four year degrees at community colleges will provide additional learning pathways, especially for populations that are historically underrepresented in higher education.

Further advocating to close the achievement gap, Governor Ducey in March announced a data-driven plan requiring public schools to resume teacher-led, in-person instruction.  The action echoed many steps the state has taken to support students in the classroom throughout the pandemic.  The Governor has prioritized ensuring all students, especially those in disadvantaged communities, continue to have access to critical services offered in schools.

Arizona’s actions in 2021 to strengthen equitable education options:

  • In April, Governor Ducey announced $26.5 million in funding to support summer learning programs, reach struggling students, enhance student achievement and expand tutoring opportunities.
  • In May, in partnership with the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Governor Ducey announced an additional $9 million in aid for child care providers throughout the state.  The funding was critical in ensuring child care was available for Arizonans reentering the workforce as summer programs closed.
  • In August, the Governor announced an investment of $10 million for an immediate relief program for K-12 students and families.  The COVID-19 Educational Recovery Benefit program will fund student and family needs related to child care, transportation, online tutoring and tuition.  Governor Ducey also announced district and charter schools following all state laws and remaining open for in-person instruction will be eligible for $163 million in grant funding aimed at boosting per pupil spending.
  • In August, Arizona invested $20 million to modernize transportation options and improve access to reliable and safe transportation for K-12 students.  The grants, administered by A for Arizona, strengthen school choice opportunities for kids and families in rural communities and all areas of the state.
  • In November, Governor Ducey announced an investment of $1.25 million to support mentorship programs for at-risk youth and training programs for parents of underrepresented families.  As students faced time away from their classrooms, they missed opportunities for mentorship.  The funding will help expand existing in-school mentoring as well as college and career readiness programs.  An additional $375,000 was allocated for after-school programs that help promote healthy choices and encourage social engagement among kids of rural areas and underserved communities.

In addition, this year, Arizona strengthened civics education in the classroom.  Governor Ducey announced plans this year to strengthen instruction about the Holocaust and make teaching of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks mandatory in Arizona’s schools.

As a result of legislation signed in July, young Arizonans will be required to learn the enduring lessons of the Holocaust and the tragic consequences of religious and racial intolerance.  All Arizona students will receive education on the Holocaust and other genocides during their K-12 education at least twice between seventh and twelfth grade.

In September, the Governor announced plans to work with the State Board of Education, legislators and education leaders to guarantee the next generation of Arizonans never forget what happened on September 11, 2001.