Video: Supt. gives State of Special Education address - AZEdNews
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Video: Supt. gives State of Special Education address

Supt. Of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman Gives Her State Of Special Education Address To The House Education Committee On Feb. 9, 2021. Photo Courtesy Arizona Capitol Television

Updated 2/9/21: Supt. of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman gave her State of Special Education address virtually to the House Education Committee.

Arizona Capitol Television: Supt. Hoffman’s State of Special Education Address 2/9/21

“The desire to see every child access a free and appropriate education fueled some of the most impactful education reforms of the last century, including the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, often referred to as IDEA,” Supt. Hoffman said.

“While our public education system is imperfect, it is guided by the philosophy and legal protections to guarantee every child, every student, the tools they need to grow, learn, and succeed,” Supt. Hoffman said.

“As our communities began to respond to COVID-19, there was an immediate concern for students in special education whose civil rights in education are protected by landmark policies like IDEA,” Supt. Hoffman said.

“For every student in special education programs, public schools offer more than just academics – they provide a range of supports and services that meets their needs and advances their education. Many public schools quickly realized that special education should be one of the last programs to transition to distance learning,” Supt. Hoffman said.

Though it is not a feat easily achieved, some school communities have offered in-person special education services with strict mitigation strategies in place.

Public schools provide special education students all sorts of support and some, like Buckeye Elementary School District, have provided hybrid-learning for special education students with help from paraprofessionals, Supt. Hoffman said.

“Supported by paraprofessionals, students learning at school interacted with the students learning at home while their teacher guided the day’s lesson. In the next room, a limited number of students received occupational therapy as the speech therapist set up a plexiglass shield to teach her students,” Supt. Hoffman said.

“While they faced challenges, the director shared that there was a much stronger home-to-school connection in the hybrid model, noting an increased continuity of shared language between school and home,” Supt Hoffman said.

But as COVID-19 cases rose, Buckeye students more at risk for developing severe complications from COVID-19 started leaving their hybrid program to resume learning from home to keep safe,

During distance learning, most public schools continued to be open for students who most need a safe place to go, including special education students, knowing how valuable the physical school space can be for those students and their families.

We can take steps to help families across the state as this COVID-19 pandemic continues and have access to reliable high-quality internet to connect them with school, work and more, Supt. Hoffman said.

Investing in special education teachers, aides, and paraprofessionals is important to ensuring they and their students thrive during distance learning, Supt. Hoffman said.

“With this investment in training our teacher workforce, 7,726 teachers took courses such as “Serving Students with Special Needs Online” through ASU’s Virtual Teacher Institute to enhance online student engagement. An additional 1,400 teachers participated for free in the annual Math Educator conference organized by UofA’s Center for the Recruitment and Retention of Mathematics Teachers,” Supt. Hoffman said.

A change to certification has added more than 40 teachers who are dual certified in special education, Supt. Hoffman said.

Arizona Dept. of Education, the Foundation for Blind Children and Arizona State University have partnered to develop a special education bachelors degree with an emphasis in teaching students with visual disabilities, Supt. Hoffman said.

“The Foundation for Blind Children has been particularly helpful in our statewide efforts to support students with disabilities and students in special education programs. With the support of our Department, the Foundation for Blind Children serves 2,000 students who are blind and visually impaired in the state – and they had a lot of challenges to overcome during periods of distance learning,” Supt. Hoffman said.

“But they adapted quickly, mailing students printed materials that were converted into braille, sending story boxes filled with lesson-related items, and transforming online lessons to make them overly descriptive and verbal,” Supt. Hoffman said.

“The Foundation’s educators and paraprofessionals were so successful, they began hosting webinars to share their knowledge and expertise with over 1,600 educators and parents from all over the country,” Supt. Hoffman said.

“These stories demonstrate that Arizona’s teacher shortage does not reflect a lack of talent – it reflects our working conditions. Too many exceptional teachers have been burned out by our overcrowded classrooms, non-competitive pay, and a lack of essential resources to serve students in special education,” Supt. Hoffman said.

“We could not afford to lose a single educator at the start of 2020 – but the demands of navigating a classroom in a pandemic have exacerbated the strain on our workforce,” Supt. Hoffman said.

“Ultimately, that strain – and the loss of qualified educators – impacts our students – at a time when they most need our support and care,” Supt. Hoffman said.

“As more of our in-person classrooms open, students with disabilities will need additional targeted supports to meet the goals in their Individual Educational Plans,” Supt. Hoffman said.

Superintendent Hoffman announced that the Arizona Department of Education would provide $5 million in CARES Act funding for compensatory services to help schools meet these needs.

Superintendent Hoffman also called on state leaders to continue taking COVID-19, its variants, and the vaccine rollout seriously so students can return to the classroom safely.

“Our students are at the end of every public health decision,” Supt. Hoffman said.

Additionally, Supt. Hoffman called for predictable, stable funding for public schools and additional investments in special education funds – calling on lawmakers to support SB 1189, a bill that would allocate $5 million to the Extraordinary Special Education Needs Fund.

Supt. Hoffman also urged lawmakers to continue to support HB 2015, which will provide funding for pre-k programs, a critical need for all students, particularly students receiving special education services.  

“With a $1 billion rainy day fund and a projected $2 billion surplus, our state has a duty to support students of all backgrounds, abilities, and experiences to learn, grow, and succeed,” Supt. Hoffman said.  

Transcript of Supt. Hoffman’s 2021 State of Special Education Address

Sustainable funding is key to providing that special education and all students achieve college and career readiness, Supt. Hoffman said.

Early intervention reduces the number of students who are identified as special education students by the third grade, and efforts to provide funding for those early intervention programs is essential, Supt. Hoffman said.

“The challenges of presented by COVID-19 has meant that learning looks different this year,” Supt. Hoffman said.

One Arizona school district has provided a virtual environment where special education students and their parents can receive help and secondary support lessons and guided practice each evening to help them with what they’re learning in their general education classrooms, Supt. Hoffman said.

Maryvale High School Special Education Teacher Kareem Neal shares his approach for Black History Month.

Desert Star School celebrates their students who are working hard during digital learning.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 787,268 today from 782,887 yesterday, and 14,286 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 491,511 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 105,606 in Pima County, 44,221 in Pinal County, 35,864 in Yuma County, 20,244 in Mohave County, 16,636 in Yavapai County, 15,015 in Navajo County, 15,810 in Coconino County, 10,676 in Cochise County, 9,908 in Apache County, 7,539 in Santa Cruz County, 6,198 in Gila County, 5,183 in Graham County, 2,314 in La Paz County and 538 in Greenlee County.

Arizona Dept. of Health Services Interactive Graphic: (Hover over counties and boxes for more info)


Apache Junction students send homemade Valentines to make sure everyone who’d like one can feel the love after their mom asked people to send addresses to them of people who might enjoy one.

Supporting Black-owned businesses is a good way to celebrate Black History Month throughout the year.

The number of Arizona children who are food insecure jumped by 10 percent in the past two years.

Updated 2/8/21: Students in Arizona public schools are scheduled to take standardized tests starting in April for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, The Arizona Republic reports.

The Arizona Department of Education is working with many schools that continue to provide virtual or online instruction to ensure all students take the assessments.

The White House COVID-19 response team and public health officials including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the Centers for Disease Control, released the following video today talking about where the nation is in battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, many Arizona seniors are are so frustrated by the difficulties in trying to set up appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations, they’re giving up, The Arizona Republic reports.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 782,887 today from 780,637 yesterday, and 14,055 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 488,687 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 104,921 in Pima County, 43,947 in Pinal County, 35,751 in Yuma County, 20,145 in Mohave County, 16,590 in Yavapai County, 14,936 in Navajo County, 15,753 in Coconino County, 10,611 in Cochise County, 9,858 in Apache County, 7,517 in Santa Cruz County, 6,175 in Gila County, 5,173 in Graham County, 2,305 in La Paz County and 536 in Greenlee County.

City of Phoenix shares what Prof. Henry Louis Gates has to say about Black History Month.

Dysart Unified School District honors their five teachers nominated for their work with students.

Read on Arizona shares 24 children’s books to teach kids about the accomplishments of Black trailblazers during Black History Month.

Cartwright School District celebrates their spelling bee winners.

Corona del Sol High School congratulates Soccer Coach Dan Salas.

This Rio Rico High School alumni spotlight produced by students shares how to be successful in high school.

Tolleson Elementary School District honors actress Cicely Tyson for her portrayal of strong Black women.

Gilbert Public Schools shares info about their International Baccalaureate program.

Updated 2/5/21: School counselors have a key role in students’ success in K-12 education and beyond. Thank them for the important work they do during National School Counseling Week.

Celebrate Black History Month by enjoying a multimedia virtual concert featuring Langston Hughes poems and the Ron McCurdy Quartet.

Race, politics, and power play key roles in the debate over how to best education urban students during the COVID-19 pandemic, Chalkbeat reports.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 775,622 today from 771,796 yesterday, and 13,948 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 483,775 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 103,932 in Pima County, 43,558 in Pinal County, 35,485 in Yuma County, 19,977 in Mohave County, 16,474 in Yavapai County, 14,835 in Navajo County, 15,565 in Coconino County, 10,608 in Cochise County, 9,819 in Apache County, 7,493 in Santa Cruz County, 6,132 in Gila County, 5,140 in Graham County, 2,294 in La Paz County and 533 in Greenlee County.

Kyrene students are helping community members during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drive up to Cesar Chavez Library to pick up crafts, STEAM Kits and book bundles honoring Black History Month.

Help make online learning possible for students all over Arizona and across the country.

An Ironwood High School students is honored for her art achievements.

The Navajo Nation hosts a virtual memorial Friday to honor former tribal president Albert Hale.

Glendale Community College names a new director of diversity, equity and inclusion.

The National Parent Teacher Association says it’s time to plan your Take Your Family to School Week activities.

Need help with your FAFSA? Take part in this drive through event.

Cave Creek Unified School District celebrates it’s graduating seniors with yearbook-style social media posts.

Updated 2/4/21: Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 771,796 today from 767,379 yesterday, and 13,752 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Updated 2/3/21: Stand for Children shares this month-by-month children’s book list for schools and parents to highlight Black history and heritage every month.

City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation highlights Vernell Coleman, an community advocate who helped revive the city’s Juneteenth celebration, during Black History Month.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 767,379 today from 765,083 yesterday, and 13,576 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 478,354 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 102,712 in Pima County, 43,151 in Pinal County, 35,318 in Yuma County, 19,782 in Mohave County, 16,407 in Yavapai County, 14,645 in Navajo County, 15,376 in Coconino County, 10,500 in Cochise County, 9,684 in Apache County, 7,453 in Santa Cruz County, 6,064 in Gila County, 5,143 in Graham County, 2,261 in La Paz County and 527 in Greenlee County.

Supt. of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman suggested lawmakers use some of the rainy day fund to provide steady funding for public K-12 education. See more of what she said in links to her speech highlighted below under yesterday’s date.

Tempe Elementary School District reminds teens and parents that the teen clothes closet is here to help.

Tolleson Union High School District celebrates National School Counselor Week.

Deer Valley High School students take practice ACT tests to prepare for test day.

Watch Rio Rico High School students showcase students and staff at their school during The Hawk Spotlight.

Hear Greater Phoenix Chamber President and CEO Todd Sanders‘ story and why he supports the Arizona Board of RegentsNew Economy Initiative.

Arizona SciTech Festival invites you to take part in their 10 years of celebrating STEM in Arizona with virtual and other activities each day this month.

Updated 2/2/21: Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman gave her State of Education address at 2 p.m. to the Arizona Legislature‘s Senate Education Committee. See below for a full transcript of Supt. Hoffman’s address.

Click here to view Arizona Capitol Television: Supt. Hoffman’s State of Education address to the Senate Education Committee 2/2/21

Supt. Hoffman’s speech was delivered online from the Arizona Department of Education.

“When I stood before you last year, I had no idea of the challenges awaiting us. In a few short weeks, our world, our expectations, and our daily routines changed drastically,” Supt. Hoffman said.

“As I stand before you this year, I am compelled to make clear that these hardships have been felt more deeply by our students than by any other segment of our society, and that we as educators, parents and community members have a duty to support them in every way possible,” Supt. Hoffman said. 

Video: Supt. gives State of Special Education address Supt-Kathy-Hoffman-State-of-Education-2--1024x580
Supt. of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman gives her State of Education address to the Senate Education Committee on Feb. 2, 2021. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol Television

Click here to read a transcript of Supt. Hoffman’s State of Education address.

“Our students have experienced too many of the pandemic’s hardships firsthand. Many have stood in line with their families to receive meals, struggled to learn over unstable internet connections, or watched their teachers take on the burden of leading instruction in-person and virtually at the same time,” Supt. Hoffman said.

“Many have coped as their parents and loved ones lost a job, struggling to make ends meet with some of the lowest unemployment benefits in the nation, often unable to pay their rent or mortgage,” Supt Hoffman said.

“In the absolute worst cases, our students have had to muster the resolve to continue learning while grieving the loss of a loved one, a teacher, a coach, or a friend – each is one too many Arizonans lost to this virus,” Supt. Hoffman said.

Supt. Hoffman called on Arizona lawmakers to provide stable ongoing funding for Arizona schools.

“Without predictable, on-going state funding, many public schools, particularly small, rural schools will not be able to sustain their operations and provide a full range of services to students and families in their communities. When the state sits on a billion-dollar rainy day fund and projects a two-billion-dollar surplus, there is no excuse to not fully fund every school,” Supt. Hoffman said.

Supt Hoffman said students are mourning the loss of family members and their teachers to COVID-19.

“Just last week, a principal reached out to me to share how traumatizing it was to tell a class of young students that their teacher had passed away from COVID-19 – that this educator was not the only teacher in her district to die that week, and that she herself was recovering from COVID-19.,” Supt. Hoffman said.

“It is devastating for a school community to lose multiple educators in one week. These stories reflect the heartbreaking ways in which COVID-19 has and continues to bring trauma to our communities. I’d like to take a moment of silence to remember each of the educators, school staff, and community members we have lost to this virus,” Supt Hoffman said.

Tolleson Elementary School District honors Barbara Johns,whose 1951 protest led to a Supreme Court ruling that made segregated public schools illegal, as part of their ongoing celebration of Black History Month.

The Senate Education Committee will also be hearing Senate Bill 1452 today, which would expand Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, also known as vouchers which provide public tax dollars to pay for students’ private school educations.

Click here for more on the proposed expansion of Arizona’s ESAs

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 765,083 today from 762,145 yesterday, and 13,362 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 477,026 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 102,320 in Pima County, 42,930 in Pinal County, 35,271 in Yuma County, 19,717 in Mohave County, 16,385 in Yavapai County, 14,597 in Navajo County, 15,313 in Coconino County, 10,484 in Cochise County, 9,643 in Apache County, 7,450 in Santa Cruz County, 6,036 in Gila County, 5,128 in Graham County, 2,256 in La Paz County and 526 in Greenlee County.

See how Canyon Springs Stem Academy kindergarten students use sound boards to break up and stretch out words, courtesy of Deer Valley School District.

Phoenix Union High School District thanks all their school counselors for the support the provide students and staff.

School counselor Janine Menard thanked students for pictures and cards they sent her for National School Counselors Week.

Arizona K12 Center offers help for Arizona schools building New Teacher Support Programs, Find out more here.

Get ready for National Read to Me Day and Join the Cooper Center in Tucson for a reading of “The Three Javelinas” on March 2 at 10 a.m, courtesy of Tucson Unified’s Ed Tech.

Re-opening schools nationwide relies on finding enough staff to run them, Education Week reports.

Take a quick break and listen to the Vistancia Elementary 4th graders in Ms. Tabor’s class perform.

Take a look at what a revised method of academic assessment might look like in this article by Education Next.

See how Arizona’s public universities are helping lead the economic recovery caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, courtesy the Arizona Board of Regents.

A good school looks at more than just test scores, says edutopia.

The rate of COVID-19 at University of Arizona is declining, which might mean more students may be able to return to in-person classes.

See what’s going on at Chandler CARE Center in February.

See how some schools have adapted to virtual teaching and learning.

Sonoran Science Academy in Tucson was covered with hateful graffiti that was reported yesterday.

A bill going though the Indiana House would provide $150 million for students who have fallen behind in learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Chalkbeat reports

Arizona State University faculty received an award for one of their innovations that allows the wearer of a prosthetic hand to feel objects.

February is also Children’s Dental Health Month, and here are some tips for parents of young children from Southwest Human Development.

Earlier coverage

Jan. 21 to Feb. 1: Black History Mural Month Project to highlight pioneers of the Black community launches in Phoenix

Jan. 10 – Jan 20How students engage with Inauguration Day

Dec. 21, 2020 to Jan 8, 2021Teachers help students deal with attacks on Congress, Capitol

Nov. 30 – Dec. 16Watch it now: Dr. Christ asks people to avoid holiday gatherings with people they do not live with

Nov. 18 – 25COVID-19 cases rise before Thanksgiving adding to school and hospital leaders’ concerns

Nov. 16: More schools return to online learning as COVID-19 cases rise

Nov. 2 – 13: $19 M grant would help schools with teacher development, stipends, reading & math curriculum, summer ed resources and more

Oct. 20 to Oct. 30: AZDHS amends COVID-19 school benchmarks

Oct. 7 – Oct. 19What are teachers doing ahead of elections to support students afterwards

Aug. 25 – Sept. 8: Parents voice concern about online class size; school nurses prepare for students

Aug. 12 – Aug. 24: Students, teachers affected by Zoom outage

July 30 – Aug. 11Parent organizes co-op for learners; group rallies for in-person school days after benchmarks release

July 13- July 30: Teachers prepare for digital learning and back to school

June 29 – July 12Video: Gov. says ‘Goal is to get children back to school when it’s safe;’ Schools lay out learning models

June 29: Video: Gov. delays in-person classes to Aug. 17 due to rise in COVID-19

June 15 – June 29: Video: Gov. pauses re-opening of some businesses as COVID-19 cases rise

June 24: Plan provides more funding, flexible instruction as schools re-open

May 26 – June 12: Increase in COVID-19 cases marks a new daily high

May 20 – 25: AZ Dept. of Ed releases COVID-19 guidance to schools for summer programs, back to school

May 11 – 19: Arizonans consider workplace safety, what back to school will look like amid COVID-19

April 26 – May 10: Stores re-open, COVID-19 testing blitz resumes on Saturday

April 8 – 25You can get tested now if you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19

March 12 – April 7Coronavirus response: Cases rise; AZ Day of Giving