PHOENIX – Arizona Department of Education has launched new campaign to encourage parents to enroll their children in public education following significant drop in enrollment in year complicated by COVID-19 pandemic .
Superintendent of Public Education Kathy Hoffman said KTAR News 92.3 FM Tuesday that about 38,000 children statewide were not enrolled for the 2020-21 school year compared to the 2019-20 school year.
“We are concerned about the quality of education that these students receive when they are not enrolled in school,” Hoffman said.
“We know this is a time when we need to rebuild that confidence and we look forward to starting the next school year strong with our students back in class.”
The ‘Ready for school from A to Z’ campaign includes a website and a hotline that provides information to parents on how to register their children and other useful resources.
Radio, TV and social media ads will also be part of the campaign. Hoffman said the ads will highlight the benefits of public education, such as developing leadership skills, collaborative skills, and providing other opportunities such as learning a musical instrument.
“Really highlight what our public schools offer that may be harder to achieve at home,” Hoffman said.
“What we hope is that by running this school readiness campaign during the summer months and giving parents and families the resources they need to better inform their decision-making, we Hopefully in August, when we have access to enrollment data for the new school year, we hope that is when we will see the peak and no longer a return to normal. ”
Hoffman believes that the tendency of parents to hold back their young children a year after starting school is what has contributed to the decline in enrollment.
“The biggest declines in enrollment were in the younger grades, so the kindergarten age group was where we saw the biggest drop,” Hoffman said. “We think it was families who made the decision to keep their children at home for an extra year.”
Hoffman added that the weakest inscriptions tended to be in communities of color, as well as tribal nations.
Door-to-door advertising will not be part of the campaign, but Hoffman said Gov. Doug Ducey’s office has allocated federal funds and contracted with an organization that does door-to-door operations. The Department of Education provides districts and charters with information on how to apply to be part of these targeted districts.
Taylor Tasler of KTAR News 92.3 FM contributed to this report.