Arizona Department Of Education’s Achievement Tutoring Program Showing Positive Results

Arizona Department Of Education’s Achievement Tutoring Program Showing Positive Results

By Daniel Stefanski |

One of Arizona’s official tutoring programs for the state’s children is getting results.

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne recently highlighted the success of the Arizona Department of Education’s Achievement Tutoring Program, noting that “student registrations total 17,324 over three six-week sessions so far this year.”

In a statement to champion this news, Horne said, “So far, more than 20 percent of those students tested have seen academic gains representing half a school year of learning within six weeks of tutoring. This helps these students to be better prepared for success at the next grade level. Other students have seen smaller gains, and some have exceeded a half-year’s progress, but every increase in the proficiency rate is important.”

The state’s schools chief added, “I urge parents of public-school children to take advantage of this opportunity. It is available at participating schools or through private tutoring services at no cost to the parents. A child who is struggling in reading or math deserves this chance to be more successful in the classroom and children already doing well can do even better.”

According to the department’s website, the Achievement Tutoring Program is “a new tutoring program designed to provide reading, writing, and mathematics tutoring for students in grades K-12. The tutoring is provided by both public school districts or charters and approved tutoring providers with the goal of increasing student proficiency on the statewide AASA in alignment with Arizona State Standards as well as improving reading, writing, and math in every grade level.”

The department offers this program to “any student enrolled in a public or charter school in grades K-12 with an emphasis on those who tested below proficient in reading, writing, or mathematics on the Arizona Academic Standards Assessment (AASA) and are not eligible for an existing support service the Arizona Department of Education offers.”

Horne’s release shared several testimonials about the success of this program. One was from “a parent who reported her first-grade son received tutoring at his elementary school and is ‘now the fastest reader in his class… This program is revolutionary…very, very powerful and successful! Keep it up!’”

Another was from a tutor who “said her student faced ‘just the right amount of challenge. He is so cute, he said ‘There is no stopping me’ – and his mom said she can really see his confidence growing!”

Another was from a parent who said, “I just want to take a moment to thank you all for this amazing program! Our oldest child was at risk of failing this year math and thanks to the tutoring program is now scoring at 82% (was at 23%)! The impact has been tremendously positive!”

The program was started late last year, “using federal dollars earmarked to address learning loss due to the COVID pandemic” – per the information from the Arizona Department of Education.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Arizona Leaders Recognize Law Enforcement During National Police Week

Arizona Leaders Recognize Law Enforcement During National Police Week

By Daniel Stefanski |

Arizona officials and agencies recognized law enforcement during the annual Police Week.

The Arizona Senate Republicans Caucus “X” account honored these first responders, writing, “This week we honor our law enforcement who put their lives on the line daily, as well as the fallen officers who paid the ultimate price to protect us. Our prayers are with the police officers and their families each and every day. THANK YOU!”

Senator Janae Shamp added, “God bless all the men and women in blue! We never miss an opportunity to let them know how appreciated they are by the Shamp family! #BacktheBlue”

Peoria Mayor Jason Beck posted, “During National Police Week, we are honoring our brave men and women in blue. On behalf of Peoria, we express our deepest gratitude for their constant dedication to keeping our communities safe.”

The Arizona Department of Education “X” account stated, “Superintendent Horne is thankful for Arizona’s Law Enforcement community. These heroes protect students, families, and our way of life.”

The Arizona Troopers Association shared a picture of four of its members in Washington, D.C., outside of the White House for police week.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office posted a video from County Attorney Rachel Mitchell, writing, “This National Police Week, we honor the dedication and sacrifice of our law enforcement community and their families. We are thankful for the brave men and women in Maricopa County and every corner of our nation who put everything on the line to keep our communities safe!”

The City of Apache Junction also stated, “We pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, never forgetting their courage and commitment.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Horne Launches Initiative To Supply Schools With Anti-Overdose Drug Narcan

Horne Launches Initiative To Supply Schools With Anti-Overdose Drug Narcan

By Daniel Stefanski |

Arizona’s school’s chief is taking on the state’s fentanyl crisis.

Earlier this week, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne announced the creation of “an initiative to supply schools with the anti-overdose drug Narcan and a statewide task force to address this crisis.”

According to the press release issued by the Arizona Department of Education, “among all age groups, Arizona recorded more than 1,800 opioid-related deaths and more than 4,000 overdoses in 2023.”

In a statement to accompany his announcement, Horne said, “Sadly, overdoses are a reality for school-aged children throughout Arizona. Fentanyl can kill students within minutes of an overdose.  It is vitally important that all schools have Narcan available to help save student lives if it should happen on campus. With the establishment of the STOPIT task force, we will work to get Narcan into schools and assist with training for its use. I am also endorsing the work of The Sold Out Youth Foundation, which has excellent resources to address this ongoing crisis.”

The School Training Overdose Preparedness and Intelligence Taskforce (STOPIT) “will include representatives from schools, health care, law enforcement and other interested stakeholders,” as per the information received from Horne’s office. Terros Health and the Mayo Clinic have expressed support for the taskforce.

Dr. Holly Geyer, Addiction Medicine Specialist at Mayo Clinic Scottsdale said, “There has never been a greater need to prepare the next generation with the knowledge and tools necessary to combat the opioid epidemic. With more than 50 percent of U.S. fentanyl being trafficked directly through our state, we are ground zero.  It’s time to bring solutions as big as the problem to the table. This taskforce has assembled a wide array of proven thought leaders whose collective expertise can and will change the landscape of our state’s opioid overdose trends.”

Dr. Karen Hoffman Tepper, president and CEO of Terros Health said,”Terros Health is honored to join the STOPIT task force.  Too many young people are being impacted by the harmful effects of fentanyl. Our team has been on the front lines, educating thousands of Arizonians on when and how to use Narcan and we have seen it save lives. We look forward to working collaboratively to make this life-saving tool available in every school and community.”

In addition to the initiative and task force, Horne also endorsed an effort to get free anti-drug awareness materials into all Arizona schools.” He shared his support of the Sold Out Youth Foundation, which “provides interactive online materials warning of the dangers of illegal drugs, proven Accredited Fentanyl Education Curriculum and online platform and promoting health and wellness and fitness education.”

Sold Out President Roman Gabriel III said, “Sold Out is committed to partnering with K-12 public schools attacking our countries current youth drug, alcohol, and mental health crisis. The SOYF Program is saving lives by equipping school staff, parents and students with a comprehensive program that includes a PLA Accredited Fentanyl Education Platform. The emphasis is on education and awareness for parents and students to understand the grave dangers that this deadly poison poses, and in turn saving lives.” 

The Republican Superintendent added, “The American Medical Association reports that overdose deaths nationally among adolescents has doubled since 2019. Fentanyl is responsible for more than three-quarters of those deaths and Arizona is not immune from this scourge. The rise of illicit fentanyl and its trafficking via social media is having a disproportionate impact on our children. This is a tragedy beyond words, it shows no sign of abating and schools are a vital resource to educate children on these dangers.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Arizona Superintendent Urges K-12 Schools To Model ASU, UArizona Handling Of Gaza Protesters

Arizona Superintendent Urges K-12 Schools To Model ASU, UArizona Handling Of Gaza Protesters

By Staff Reporter |

Arizona Department of Education Superintendent Tom Horne advised K-12 schools to look to Arizona State University (ASU) and University of Arizona (UArizona) for how to respond to Gaza protesters. 

In a press release issued on Monday following a long weekend of higher education protests against Israel in Arizona and nationwide, Horne praised ASU and UArizona leadership — specifically presidents Robert Robbins and Michael Crow — for their handling of the mass protests compared to other universities, which he characterized as antisemitic.

“Robert Robbins and Michael Crow deserve exceptional praise for standing up to antisemitism on their campuses. This stands in stark contrast to how many colleges, universities and ideological faculty members have kowtowed to disruptive pro-Hamas demonstrations,” said Horne. “It is also an excellent template for K-12 schools in Arizona to follow should any attempt be made by students to copy the type of protests that have shut down portions of college campuses and caused Jewish students to feel unsafe.”

Horne warned that history would repeat itself, should those in leadership not be proactive with handling protests. The superintendent cited several incidents of violence that broke out at other campuses nationwide, including rocks reportedly thrown at Jewish students at Columbia University and a pole with a Palestinian flag being stabbed into the eye of another Jewish student at Yale University. 

“Our DNA is no different from the DNA of Germans in the 1930s, and Nazis started with young thugs attacking people on the street,” said Horne. “We need to be vigilant.”

Law enforcement for both campuses were swift to deter and move out protesters as they attempted to establish encampments. 

Of the two institutions, UArizona had the calmer turnout in terms of protestors. At ASU, over 70 arrests were made, 15 of whom were students, after protesters set up an illegal encampment as part of their protest. 

UArizona protesters also set up an encampment on Monday, but later dispersed. After those protesters left, officials barricaded the campus mall to prevent further encampments.

Law enforcement had to drive out the protesters and relied on assistance from fraternity members to assist in cleanup. 

However, by Tuesday protesters returned to encamp again elsewhere on campus.

A majority of the Gaza protests were concentrated along the upper east coast. The following higher education institutions have experienced Gaza protests over the last few weeks: 

  • California: California State Polytechnic Institute, Stanford University, University of Southern California Los Angeles;
  • Colorado: Auraria Campus;
  • Connecticut: University of Connecticut, Yale University;
  • D.C.: George Washington University; 
  • Delaware: University of Delaware;
  • Florida: Florida State University;
  • Georgia: Emory University, University of Georgia;
  • Illinois: Northwestern University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign;
  • Indiana: Indiana University Bloomington;
  • Massachusetts: Emerson College, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, Tufts University;
  • Michigan: Michigan State University;
  • Minnesota: University of Minnesota; 
  • Missouri: Washington University.
  • North Carolina: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill;
  • New Jersey: Princeton University;
  • New Mexico: University of New Mexico Albuquerque;
  • New York: City College of New York, Columbia University, Cornell University, Fashion Institute of Technology, the New School, New York University, University of Rochester; 
  • Pennsylvania: Swarthmore College, University of Pennsylvania;
  • Ohio: Ohio State University;
  • Rhode Island: Brown University;
  • South Carolina: University of South Carolina;
  • Texas: Rice University, University of Texas at Austin;

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Horne Tells U.S. Education Secretary To Stop Threatening To Shut Down Grand Canyon University

Horne Tells U.S. Education Secretary To Stop Threatening To Shut Down Grand Canyon University

By Daniel Stefanski |

Arizona’s Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction is standing up for an in-state university in a battle against the federal government.

This week, Arizona’s school’s chief, Tom Horne, sent a letter to Secretary Miguel Cardona of the U.S. Department of Education, urging the agency head to “change [his] position on Grand Canyon University (GCU) and come to a satisfactory resolution.”

Earlier this month, Cardona said of his department’s efforts over GCU: “Going after predatory schools preying on first generation students. They have flashy marketing materials, but the product is not worth the paper it is printed on. Increased enforcement budget to go after these folks and crack down. Levied largest fine in history against a school that lied about costs and terminated a school from Title IX. We are cracking down not only to shut them down, but to send a message not to prey on schools.”

Horne reminded Cardona of a 2023 letter that he had transmitted, asking for his department to “sit down with Grand Canyon University and work out any differences.” He explained that GCU was “a major ally to my effort to raise academics in Arizona schools, and any harm you do to them would do harm to my goal of academic excellence.” The Superintendent added that there was a “severe teacher shortage in Arizona, and the elimination of GCU would be a severe blow.”

In his latest letter, Horne informed the high-ranking cabinet member that “GCU reports that they have asked your department for evidence of intent and verified student complaints regarding the accusation your department is making, and you have refused to provide that information.”

As he wrapped up his letter, Horne wrote, “in the U.S., anyone accused of wrongdoing is presumed innocent and entitled to their day in court. For a Cabinet-level official, one who is sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution, your threat against GCU is contrary to those constitutional guarantees and unworthy of your position. It is unwarranted, unjust and the latest episode of harassment against this school by the federal government.”

The state school’s chief concluded by asserting that Cardona had, so far, “chosen to be unreasonable” in his approach and actions against GCU.

In October 2023, the U.S. Department of Education fined GCU $37.7 million, accusing the university of lying “to more than 7,500 former and current students about the cost of its doctoral programs over several years.” Richard Cordray, the Chief Operating Officer of the Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid, said, “Today, we are holding GCU accountable for its actions, protecting students and taxpayers, and upholding the integrity of the federal student aid programs.”

GCU responded to the recent comments by the U.S. Education Secretary, stating, “GCU has been asked repeatedly why it believes it is being targeted by federal agencies of the Biden Administration. Here’s what we can tell you: Mr. Cardona’s inflammatory comments make very clear the Department of Education’s intentions and their disdain for institutions that do not fit their ideological agenda. What’s also clear is that ED has no lawful grounds to carry out those intentions based on their disingenuous and factually unsupportable allegations.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.