Gov. Doug Ducey's disturbing COVID-19 death wish (for schoolkids)

·3 min read
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey continues to press policies that put students at risk of getting COVID-19, though few parents have used them.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey continues to press policies that put students at risk of getting COVID-19, though few parents have used them.

What part of “mitigate” does Gov. Doug Ducey not understand?

Granted, it’s kind of a big word. But a simple perusal of the dictionary would tell him that it means to make a situation “less severe, harmful or painful.”

The governor seems to believe it means just the opposite.

The federal government has doled out millions of dollars to Arizona to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Back in August, Ducey announced a plan that would take 10 million of those dollars and do … the reverse.

He decided to set up a program that would provide private school vouchers to parents who are opposed to public school policies that are meant to keep teachers and kids safe and alive.

Ducey's failure is actually a success

In announcing his program, Ducey said, “We are committed to keeping all Arizona kids on track, closing the achievement gap and equipping underserved students and families with the tools they need to thrive. Our COVID-19 Educational Recovery Benefit will empower parents to exercise their choice when it comes to their child’s education and COVID-19 mitigation strategies.”

A review of the results by The Arizona Republic has shown that very few parents have so far been awarded the proposed voucher money.

This “failure” is wonderful news.

It’s actually a success.

It means that fewer children have been exposed, or have exposed others, to the virus.

But Ducey is determined to ramp up his efforts.

Hey, if schoolkids drown, they drown

The federal government, on the other hand, would rather keep as many teachers and children virus free as possible.

In October, the U.S. Treasury Department sent Ducey a letter saying that using $10 million for private school vouchers, as well as his decision to give $163 million to public schools if they do not have mask mandates, are “not a permissible use” of the federal cash.

In the letter, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said Ducey’s programs “undermine evidence-based efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

That’s true.

It would be like giving a family money to provide swimming lessons for the children and CPR instruction for the adults, and the parents using it to take down the pool fence and install a diving platform.

Students must be healthy to thrive

The courts already have struck down anti-mitigation bills the GOP-controlled Arizona Legislature slipped into the state budget bill.

This latest scheme is Ducey’s way of satisfying the anti-vaccine, conspiracy-obsessed members of his party while also trying to expand the state’s voucher program, which voters already rejected.

In announcing his program, Ducey included support from legislative leaders like Republican Senate President Karen Fann (the driving force behind Arizona’s sham election audit) who said at the time, “Educators, families and state leaders are working hard to get students back on track, and the Educational Recovery Benefit program will make sure kids have every opportunity to grow and thrive.”

What Ducey, Fann and their GOP brothers and sisters don’t seem to understand is that in order for students and educators “grow and thrive,” they must remain healthy.

That can’t happen when your warped priorities put school vouchers ahead of schoolchildren.

Reach Montini at ed.montini@arizonarepublic.com.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Gov. Doug Ducey has a COVID-19 death wish for schoolkids