Snohomish grad telephoned by President Biden
SNOHOMISH — Chad Gestson, a Snohomish Panther who today is superintendent of a school district in Phoenix, took a surprise phone call from President Joe Biden Friday, Aug. 13. The President praised Gestson for standing up for requiring masks in school, which goes in opposition to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.
In July, Ducey issued an executive order that prohibits schools from making masks mandatory; it will become Arizona state law Sept. 29. Ducey also announced he will withhold federal American Recovery Plan grant funds from school districts which break the law by implementing mask mandates.
In the call, the president expressed appreciation and support for Gestson’s stand, and the conversation discussed the importance of children learning in-person, Gestson described in an interview with the Tribune.
“I’ve told people here, (Ducey) doesn’t agree with our stance and I don’t agree with his, but it’s not about picking a fight, it is about fighting this virus,” Gestson said.
Gestson grew up in Clearview and graduated from Snohomish High in 1996.
Gestson arrived in Phoenix 20 years ago through the Teach for America program. He’s now in his seventh year as superintendent of the Phoenix Union School District, a high school-only school district of 22 high schools in the nation’s fifth largest city.
To Snohomish, Gestson’s first message is on the importance of public education, which he said Snohomish has applied. “Ultimately, education is the great equalizer,” Gestson said. His second message is to focus on youth: “The entire community needs to wrap around this current generation” to keep them active, he said.
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