It’s Time To Rethink Mask Mandates In K-12 Schools In Light Of Learning Loss And Disparate Treatment

It’s Time To Rethink Mask Mandates In K-12 Schools In Light Of Learning Loss And Disparate Treatment

By Loretta Hunnicutt |

Aside from the notable lost learning associated with masks among early readers, and the irritability masks foster, the most common criticism I hear from parents is that the masking policies are selectively applied and enforced.

The biggest disparity in the application and enforcement of masking policy appears to be between younger and older students. While younger students are statistically less likely to carry and spread Covid-19, the mandatory masking anecdotally is more strictly enforced in the younger age groups.

This disparity in treatment between different ages of students is obviously not based on the science of contagion and transmissibility. Yet, despite the fact that we have some of the best minds studying infectious disease and  months of accumulated data about COVID-19 upon which to create strategies to address this pandemic and develop sound policies to ensure acceptance of them, we still insist on imposing scientifically baseless mandates.

Worse yet, as previously noted, the mandates are disparately enforced in our schools.

How can we explain this phenomenon? Is it a result of something as innocent as a misunderstanding of the science, or something more insidious?

That disregard could stem from a bevy of malfeasant managers or politically motivated praxis pushed out by our colleges of education.

Too often we see overcrowded classrooms filled with teachers who have been denied basic training in classroom management by administrators who prefer to spend money on the training of failed restorative practices because the purveyors of such practices offer their trainings in more  desirable destinations. On the other hand, too many teachers display co-dependent tendencies that compel them to  control every aspect of their students’ behavior.

Unfortunately, because the largest teachers’ union, under the management of Randi Weingarten, a childless bully who has not spent any considerable time with third graders this century, is pushing masks, one might safely assume that the mandate is more political than anything else.

Still, what could make the average human being who selflessly serves society by training our youth to go along with the unions’ demands and so heartlessly impose such demeaning measures? I believe it could be a result of something that has evolved naturally in the K-12 setting over decades; a loss of regard for the individual.

Years ago, while taking a deep dive in the Critical Race Theory-based curriculum offered in the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD), we discovered the systematic effort to erase individual identity. Children at an early age were stripped of their individuality through a series of exercises intended to groom them as foot soldiers from a radical cause.

Rather than address children by their given names, they were referred to as “mija” and “mijo.” The patronizing practice left children feeling small, defenseless, but cared for. The children were then encouraged to repeat a pledge of allegiance similar to the message a sexual predator would send to a child: if you hurt me by telling our little secret, you will hurt yourself more.

We have seen a reference to that  pledge, In Lak Ech, plainly in Corwin’s Deep Equity program. However, that type of secret bonding is materializing in more subtle ways as Critical Race Theory-based curriculum is adopted for K-12 classrooms.

While I am not suggesting that those who are adamant about masking mandates are driven by a desire to build through problematization an angry army as the teachers were in  TUSD, that is exactly what they might be doing.

They certainly have created an army of concerned parents. Parents are concerned about learning  loss, the undermining of their authority, the arbitrary and capricious nature of quarantines, and the insistence that merit-based advancement is racist.

We have all seen the justifiable anger in our schoolboard meetings as parents fight desperately to stop the indoctrination of their children or the passage of pandemic-related policies that have zero foundation in science while sending families’ routines into chaos.

That chaos has created the need for more daycare providers, or left one parent out of a job, plunging families further into financial hardship and creating more victims of poverty.

As for young students, masking has a deleterious effect on language learning and as we know, language is our identity. As a result, the benefits of masking are far outweighed by the risks to young children. It is therefore imperative, that we step back and rethink the masking mandates in K-12.

Even if we are to ascribe the best motives to those who crafted the current policies, we are still obligated to reassess the situation and craft policies going forward that are neither influenced by politics or fake science.

Third graders cannot stay in third grade until we finally get this right. They have to move on and so we have to move on with crafting fact-based policies with urgency.

Parents Must Not Drop Their Guard After Scottsdale’s Apology For Inadvertent Inclusion Of Intrusive Questions

Parents Must Not Drop Their Guard After Scottsdale’s Apology For Inadvertent Inclusion Of Intrusive Questions

By Loretta Hunnicutt |

After vigilant parents sounded the alarm about a consent form they were asked to sign electronically that would have asked their children highly personal questions, Scottsdale Unified School District leadership apologized.

The District’s leadership advised parents that they would not be asked to authorize the District to “complete an emotional health and wellness screening of my child and to collect personal information, medical history or medical information, mental health history or mental health information, and quality of home and interpersonal relationships, student biometric information, or illegal, antisocial or self-incriminating behavior critical appraisal of individuals within a close relationship and gun/ammunition ownership.

The District claims those issues were mentioned inadvertently in a portion of students’ annual verification packet:

On May 4, 2021, Scottsdale Unified School District’s (SUSD) administration recommended that the Governing Board approve the FastBridge program as a social emotional learning screener for students in Kindergarten through 12th grades. It was already being used as an academic screener for grades K through 3.

This social emotional screening program, which the Board voted to adopt, is used to evaluate students overall general behavior including but not limited to, social, academic and emotional behavior. Screening is typically completed within three minutes, with results available immediately to parents and staff. These findings enable our teachers, social worker and guidance counselor professionals to help identify students who may be in need of additional support and intervention programs and to make that support available as early as possible.

The screening tool is optional and one that parents have a choice to authorize for use with their children each school year.

Notwithstanding this, SUSD’s initial parent acknowledgment form incorrectly stated that the FastBridge screener might ask for personal information about income family matters, medical or family medical history, mental health history and other categories of private information.

To be clear, the FastBridge screener does not and has never sought this information. The waiver form that initially appeared in ParentVUE as part of the parents’ annual acknowledgment was a standard waiver form that had not yet been properly tailored to SUSD’s use. The form has since been amended to reflect the information that is actually collected. We apologize for this oversight and offer our services that SUSD does not support, endorse or collect any family personal information through FastBridge.

Leadership goes on to claim that Scottsdale parents “have stressed to us how important it is for schools to support their students social emotional learning.”

“Our sole goal in acquiring FastBridge,” wrote leadership, “is to be able to support the whole child and offer help to students sooner when we see that academic and behavioral issues in the classroom are limiting their opportunities to learn and grow.”

This “apology” raises too many questions and red flags. From the implication that a child’s social emotional well-being can be assessed in three minutes, to the claim that leadership is responding to parents’ pleas that the schools support their students’ social emotional learning, the missive misses the mark for any discerning reader.

Any educator who believes that they can assess a child in any meaningful way in three minutes is misguided at best and likely committing educational malpractice at worst.

The fact that our schools continue to cater to the fear-mongering teachers’ unions, thus strongly encouraging masks and vaccines for students K-8, clearly shows that they have put the students’ social and emotional well-being far down their list of priorities.

While the apology is appreciated by many parents, I fear that it will prompt them to drop their guard and not look carefully at the other consent forms they are asked to sign. There is also the danger that parents might assume that their children are not turning over this information in their classrooms at all when nothing could be further from the truth.

Parents need to be on guard at all times, and at all times they must assume that their children are products – the data they produce, the insights they give, the very supplies they prefer to bring to school are all of value to those who benefit – in one way or another – from the education industrial complex.

Corporations With The “Best Of Intentions” Should Consider Sources When Making School Funding Decisions

Corporations With The “Best Of Intentions” Should Consider Sources When Making School Funding Decisions

By Loretta Hunnicutt |

Recently, the Arizona Attorney General settled civil rights cases involving Uber Eats, Postmates, and DoorDash in a case he was corporations with the “best of intentions” doing the “wrong thing.” The “wrong thing,” in this case, was offering  “price distinctions based on a person’s race.”

The corporations in question planned on waiving delivery fees for black-owned restaurants. The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) found that the plan squarely violated equal access laws and the corporations were charged with public accommodations discrimination based on race.

The AGO alleged that the corporations unlawfully discriminated against non-Black owned restaurants and their patrons, in violation of the Arizona Civil Rights Act (ACRA).

“Even with the best of intentions, corporations can do the wrong thing. Altering the price of goods or services based on race is illegal,” said the Attorney General in a press release. “My office opened these investigations and pursued these settlements to protect civil rights and ensure businesses offer their services and products based on equal and neutral criteria.”

It is with the same good intentions that companies are doing the wrong thing across the country by funding “diversity,” “equity,” “inclusion,” and “anti-racist” programs in school districts.

There is little doubt that the average company participating in the promotion of programs based on the aforementioned buzz words believe that they are advancing civil rights and social harmony. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. The Critical Race-based programs are creating deep divides and distrust in communities just as the Critical theorists intended.

Given that the majority of corporations exist for the most part because of capitalism, it is hard to conceive that they would ever knowingly support programs based on Western-Marxist philosophy, but that is exactly what they are doing.

Some more cynical observers suspect that the mega-corps are funding the “antiracist movement” in order to divide the middle- and lower-classes and thus keep them conquered. While the cynics might find a rare case, for the majority of companies it is the trust they have in educators that is driving their funding decision-making.

As it stands, corporations with the best of intentions are doing the wrong thing and creating nightmares for parents and children. I have confidence that this is not the intended outcome.

Contrary to the implications made by “antiracists,” parents are not objecting to “diversity,” “equity,” “inclusion,” and “anti-racist” programs in school districts because they are bigots. It is quite the opposite: they do not want their children growing up to be the segregationists – the bigots – the Critical Race Theory-based proponents want them to be.

Companies have mostly relied on national and local chambers that mostly relied local educational organizations to decide where and what educational programs they funded. In the past, that process delivered good outcomes. Now, with the over-representation of the National Education Association by a wide margin on local school boards and state organizations like the Arizona School Board Association, the product of corporate spending on our classrooms can only lead to a proliferation of anti-capitalist, anti-corporatist, anti-American pedagogy.

As a result, it is essential that the small businesses that are the backbone of middle-America and the large corporations that benefit the most from them re-evaluate the resources they rely on to determine to whom those charitable dollars flow.

RELATED ARTICLE: Loretta Hunnicutt, Glenn Beck explore indoctrination in TUSD schools

Hoffman Grateful For “American Rescue Plan’s” $2.6 Billion In Funding

Hoffman Grateful For “American Rescue Plan’s” $2.6 Billion In Funding

By Lori Hunnicutt |

After having already received over $1 billion in CARES ACT ESSER and ESSER II funding for Arizona’s schools, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman issued a publicly paid for press release to expressed her gratitude to Arizona’s democratic congressional delegation for the passage of the American Rescue Plan.

According to Hoffman, the Plan will provide nearly $2.6 billion dollars to Arizona for K-12 education, of which the Arizona Department of Education will allocate 90% of those funds directly to public schools.

“The latest round of federal relief and recovery dollars comes at a time of high need for Arizona’s schools and families as many prepare for a return to some degree of in-person learning. From teaching and learning to providing critical wrap around supports, over the past year, every Arizonan has seen just how essential our schools are to our communities,” said Hoffman in her press release. “I am grateful to the members of Arizona’s delegation who supported the American Rescue Plan, their advocacy and their votes are essential to our recovery as a state.”

As noted by Hoffman, schools are essential, and as a result, parents have gone in search of those essential service providers. Public school enrollment is down by approximately 38,000 students for the 2020-2021 school year compared to last year.

Despite the fact that the Arizona Department of Education released a report showing public school enrollment is declining dramatically, funding for schools is growing due to COVID by nearly the same dramatic rate.

ESSER allocations were only for Title I districts and were set by the federal government. Non title I districts did not receive a direct allocation from the federal government through the CARES act so the Department used its discretionary funds to ensure they had access to relief dollars, according to Richie Taylor with the Arizona Department of Education.

TOP 20 ESSR RECEIPIENTS TOP 20 ESSR II RECEIPIENTS
LEA NAME ESSER Fund Allocation ESSER II Allocation TOTAL
Tucson Unified District $18,558,099.29 $76,396,636.50 $94,954,735.79
Mesa Unified District $17,062,873.58 $70,241,361.27 $87,304,234.85
Phoenix Union High School District $11,993,688.79 $49,373,455.48 $61,367,144.27
Cartwright Elementary District $7,999,141.31 $32,929,422.74 $40,928,564.05
Washington Elementary School District $7,318,952.59 $30,129,344.49 $37,448,297.08
Alhambra Elementary District $6,507,560.37 $26,789,151.34 $33,296,711.71
Sunnyside Unified District $5,721,902.88 $23,554,897.94 $29,276,800.82
Glendale Elementary District $4,804,642.37 $19,778,885.64 $24,583,528.01
Roosevelt Elementary District $4,701,263.40 $19,329,140.54 $24,030,403.94
Paradise Valley Unified District $4,513,659.06 $18,581,882.84 $23,095,541.90
Phoenix Elementary District $4,420,353.51 $17,741,161.13 $22,161,514.64
Peoria Unified School District $4,230,397.55 $17,414,938.09 $21,645,335.64
Glendale Union High School District $4,163,991.22 $17,141,568.48 $21,305,559.70
Dysart Unified District $3,914,351.21 $16,114,569.28 $20,028,920.49
Isaac Elementary District $3,839,593.72 $15,565,659.76 $19,405,253.48
Deer Valley Unified District $3,656,154.10 $15,072,832.22 $18,728,986.32
Chandler Unified District #80 $3,276,351.66 $13,574,728.96 $16,851,080.62
Creighton Elementary District $3,317,717.18 $13,452,995.34 $16,770,712.52
Amphitheater Unified District $3,173,678.01 $13,002,600.04 $16,176,278.05

TOP 50 ESSR RECEIPIENTS TOP 50 ESSR II RECEIPIENTS
LEA NAME ESSER Fund Allocation LEA NAME ESSER II Allocation
Tucson Unified District $18,558,099.29 Tucson Unified District $76,396,636.50
Mesa Unified District $17,062,873.58 Mesa Unified District $70,241,361.27
Phoenix Union High School District $11,993,688.79 Phoenix Union High School District $49,373,455.48
Cartwright Elementary District $7,999,141.31 Cartwright Elementary District $32,929,422.74
Washington Elementary School District $7,318,952.59 Washington Elementary School District $30,129,344.49
Alhambra Elementary District $6,507,560.37 Alhambra Elementary District $26,789,151.34
Sunnyside Unified District $5,721,902.88 Sunnyside Unified District $23,554,897.94
Glendale Elementary District $4,804,642.37 Glendale Elementary District $19,778,885.64
Roosevelt Elementary District $4,701,263.40 Roosevelt Elementary District $19,329,140.54
Paradise Valley Unified District $4,513,659.06 Paradise Valley Unified District $18,581,882.84
Phoenix Elementary District $4,420,353.51 Phoenix Elementary District $17,741,161.13
Peoria Unified School District $4,230,397.55 Peoria Unified School District $17,414,938.09
Glendale Union High School District $4,163,991.22 Glendale Union High School District $17,141,568.48
Dysart Unified District $3,914,351.21 Dysart Unified District $16,114,569.28
Isaac Elementary District $3,839,593.72 Isaac Elementary District $15,565,659.76
Deer Valley Unified District $3,656,154.10 Deer Valley Unified District $15,072,832.22
Creighton Elementary District $3,317,717.18 Chandler Unified District #80 $13,574,728.96
Chandler Unified District #80 $3,276,351.66 Creighton Elementary District $13,452,995.34
Amphitheater Unified District $3,173,678.01 Amphitheater Unified District $13,002,600.04
Tempe School District $2,599,800.98 Yuma Union High School District $10,524,843.43
Yuma Union High School District $2,556,671.32 Chinle Unified District $10,485,054.40
Gilbert Unified District $2,361,129.01 Tempe School District $10,097,765.41
Chinle Unified District $2,311,140.03 Gilbert Unified District $9,719,870.46
Pendergast Elementary District $2,051,218.76 Academy of Mathematics and Science South, Inc. $8,669,827.51
Scottsdale Unified District $2,039,036.15 Pendergast Elementary District $8,495,439.77
Yuma Elementary District $1,987,817.13 Scottsdale Unified District $8,428,712.94
Academy of Mathematics and Science South, Inc. $1,936,851.39 Yuma Elementary District $8,183,087.04
Douglas Unified District $1,912,733.71 Douglas Unified District $7,873,997.23
Nogales Unified District $1,864,660.69 Nogales Unified District $7,676,098.84
Tolleson Union High School District $1,839,218.99 Tolleson Union High School District $7,571,365.40
Casa Grande Elementary District $1,718,113.97 Casa Grande Elementary District $7,072,934.77
Balsz Elementary District $1,649,049.88 Kingman Unified School District $6,767,033.37
Kingman Unified School District $1,643,832.54 Fowler Elementary District $6,728,290.92
Fowler Elementary District $1,634,421.24 Balsz Elementary District $6,676,508.92
Florence Unified School District $1,591,119.78 Florence Unified School District $6,608,113.68
Flagstaff Unified District $1,571,344.58 Whiteriver Unified District $6,545,727.43
Sierra Vista Unified District $1,446,034.29 Kayenta Unified District $6,308,720.55
Whiteriver Unified District $1,320,524.94 Flagstaff Unified District $6,137,515.48
Gadsden Elementary District $1,305,353.14 Sierra Vista Unified District $5,507,013.62
Coolidge Unified District $1,301,824.05 Gadsden Elementary District $5,373,642.41
Apache Junction Unified District $1,289,942.00 Flowing Wells Unified District $5,237,156.31
Flowing Wells Unified District $1,261,038.47 American Leadership Academy, Inc. $5,169,312.09
Osborn Elementary District $1,249,531.15 Apache Junction Unified District $5,111,069.81
Crane Elementary District $1,195,318.52 Coolidge Unified District $4,983,582.74
Kayenta Unified District $1,189,663.56 Crane Elementary District $4,920,671.69
Murphy Elementary District $1,169,915.43 Humboldt Unified District $4,801,577.92
Humboldt Unified District $1,166,388.53 Marana Unified District $4,777,558.60
Marana Unified District $1,151,547.40 Avondale Elementary District $4,761,816.09
Avondale Elementary District $1,149,022.62 Osborn Elementary District $4,751,065.08


While multiple studies show that students are suffering greatly from school closures including increased anxiety and even suicide, Hoffman has been nearly silent on the subject of student mental health and what programs might be developed with the millions in surplus monies not allocated to schools to improve students’ mental and intellectual well-being.

Ducey Sets March 15 Deadline To Get Students “Back In The Classroom”

Ducey Sets March 15 Deadline To Get Students “Back In The Classroom”

By Lori Hunnicutt |

On Wednesday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order returning schools to in-person, teacher-led instruction.

The governor said his team, relying on the metrics developed by the CDC, have determined that 12 of Arizona’s 15 counties “are in phases where all schools are safe to open, including in the state’s two largest counties, Maricopa and Pima.”

Ducey’s order requires schools to return to in-person learning by March 15, or after Spring Break.

The order includes an exception for middle and high schools located in counties with “high” transmission of COVID-19, as defined by the CDC ⁠— which currently includes just three Arizona counties: Coconino, Yavapai, and Pinal.

While the governor recognizes the decision may be controversial, he noted in his announcement that the “CDC is clear that there is a safe pathway for all schools to open at any transmission level, and to stay open if they implement proper mitigation strategies. A student may continue participating in virtual instruction if their parent or guardian chooses so.”

Scot Mussi, President of the Free Enterprise Club said that Ducey’s announcement “is a major step in the right direction.”

“Arizona’s children have been out of school for far too long,” said Mussi. “The Club commends Governor Ducey for standing with parents and students and taking action today that follows the science. ”

“Since August of 2020, I have supported schools reopening and remaining open,” said Arizona State Rep. Beverly Pingerelli, who is also a member of the Peoria Unified School District Governing Board. “The scientists were telling us that our younger population was significantly safer than our older populations and we had appropriate precautions in place. And we know students learn best when they’re in a classroom setting. Teachers using sick outs to protest is not acceptable in my view, particularly when they have had priority access to the Covid vaccines and many I’ve spoken to have already been vaccinated.”