WASHINGTON— Today, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva sent a letter to Governor Doug Ducey expressing concern on remarks made on education funding during his 2021 State of the State Address. Governor Ducey stated in his address, “We will not be funding empty seats or allowing schools to remain in a perpetual state of closure,” which the office later clarified to mean that the state would be funding public schools and charter schools based on current enrollment instead of pre-pandemic levels. In the same address, Ducey argued for more school choice policies that will disproportionately hurt students in low-income school districts and communities of color.
“Taking money from schools due to enrollment drops or to redirect toward school choice policies negatively affect the same students whom you pledged to direct resources,” wrote Rep. Grijalva. “All students have the right to attend a high-quality public school that meets their needs while maintaining all their rights under IDEA and other civil rights statutes. Many of these students do not have access to reliable internet or technology. Others may be caring for younger siblings or working to support their families.”
“Enrollment declines in high-poverty districts will lead to a deeper decline in aggregate funding as lower numbers of low-income students may lower the poverty rate of these districts, thereby decreasing their funding per pupil,” continued Rep. Grijalva. “If these unenrolled students return for the 2021–22 school year, their districts could find themselves lacking the resources to adequately serve their students. This pattern could exacerbate inequities between low-income and high-income districts, thereby thwarting your efforts to target funding towards the students who most need it.”