Unfortunately, COVID is still wreaking havoc, with many organizations and institutions facing problems. Arizona recognized this with unexpected school closures and is introducing a new program giving up to $7,000 to qualified families who are struggling with the issue.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced the initiative on Tuesday, saying the $7,000 will help with children’s educational needs. These needs include transportation, tutoring, childcare, and school tuition, Fox News reports. The Arizona Department of Economic Security states to be eligible, the office must approve the request for assistance.
Speaking to Fox News about the program, the national director of research at School Choice Now, Corey DeAngelis, expresses hope other states will do something similar. “Every state should follow Arizona’s lead. If a Safeway doesn’t reopen, families can take their money elsewhere. If a school doesn’t reopen, families should be able to take their children’s education dollars elsewhere. In fact, families should be able to take their children’s education dollars elsewhere regardless. Education funding is meant for educating children, not for protecting a particular institution.”
Further, DeAngelis argues funding “students, not systems” is the best way to address schools closing. According to him, this empowers families to find alternatives and encourages schools to better cater to their needs. This accountability should spur the schools into action and become more accommodating to students, rather than having them and their families suffer for the closures.
For example, DeAngelis mentioned the Open for Learning Recovery Benefit Program. This allows students to “access instruction that best meets their needs,” if they meet income requirements.
In short, Arizona is giving families an option both from a monetary standpoint and allowing them to seek other avenues besides schools for education.
Agriculture Department Reveals $1.5 Billion School Meals Program Because of Supply Chain Issues
The state of Arizona isn’t alone in trying to combat COVID’s effects on students and families. On that note, the U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) said last it was enacting a $1.5 billion school meals program due to supply chain issues.
NBC News covered the announcement, saying the organization will make the funds available through their Commodity Credit Corporation. The USDA plans to allocate the funds in three different ways. First, $1 billion will go to schools to purchase food for their meal programs. $300 million is for states to purchase foods to be distributed to schools and the remaining $200 million will go to cooperative agreements to buy local foods for schools.
Stacey Dean, deputy undersecretary at the USDA, told reporters the USDA wants to offer stability and help to those who need it. “A big part of what we need to try to do is offer as much stability and predictability as possible in an incredibly uncertain time.”
Overall, individual states will distribute the funds to schools based on student enrollment. Each district has a minimum funding requirement, ensuring all schools receive funding.