Gov. Ducey talks learning loss, school choice, more in final State of the State

Posted at 5:29 PM, Jan 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-10 20:47:07-05

PHOENIX — “There’s been too much attention put on masks and not nearly enough placed on math, a focus on restrictions rather than reading and writing,” Governor Doug Ducey said during his State of the State address Tuesday.

His comments, sending a clear message to education leaders that schools will stay open, and the focus is on moving forward.

“It’s students of color and those in poverty who have been most impacted by the COVID-era posturing and politics of some school board bureaucrats,” he said.

For nearly 10 minutes, the governor pushed to expand school choices in “any way possible,” slammed critical race theory and called for greater transparency and openness when it comes to what kids are learning.

“Let’s require all that a child is taught, all curriculum and academic materials be put online and available to search and review by every parent, grandparent and interested citizen,” Ducey said.

"I didn’t hear anything about safety protocols, I don't even think I heard the word ‘teacher’ today,” said Marisol Garcia, vice president of Arizona Education Association.

Garcia says she was disappointed by the address, and what she calls a failure to prioritize public education. That is something she fears will only make it harder to recruit and keep qualified educators in Arizona.

“They’re going to continue to be agitated, frustrated and look for other places to go,” said Garcia.

The governor did mention launching a new summer program to support students who have fallen behind during the pandemic.

He did not, however, mention the K-12 schools spending cap, which must be voted on by March 1. More than $1 billion in existing school funding is at stake.

State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman is currently on maternity leave, but her private campaign Twitter account did tweet a response to the governor’s address, saying lawmakers need to take action to adjust the “outdated” spending cap to “prevent devastating budget cuts, or even closures by April.”