Horne issues response to protest over English Language Learner instruction

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald

English immersion opponents make false claims

Contributed Article

PHOENIX – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne has issued the following statement in response to claims made by opponents of the state’s voter-approved English immersion law.

He states, “Presenting approximately 3,000 signatures opposing English immersion is not an impressive feat. In 2000, more than 925,000 Arizonans – 63 percent of voters – approved Proposition 203, making English immersion the law. I supported the proposition at the time and I am sworn to uphold that law now.

I want to emphasize that we have not eliminated the fourth alternative passed by the State Board. We are only requiring waivers that are required in the initiative that was passed by the voters, and that the State Board has never sought to eliminate. 

The statements about the benefits of dual language by the advocates are anecdotal and are clearly contradicted by real-world data. 

I will give both historical and current data on this amount.

Before I took office (for) the first time in 2003, when they had bilingual education, Lisa Graham Keegan reported to the legislature an English proficiency rate of 4%.  The English proficiency rates for structured English immersion, by contrast for the last four years when I was last Superintendent (2007-2010), were an average of 31% each for those years.  For current data, we looked up the English proficiency rates for dual language for the four schools we were able to locate who has had dual language for more than the last few years.” 


Glendale ElementaryWilliam C Jack Elementary7%About 5 years
MesaKeller Elementary6%At least 8 years
Tucson SchoolPueblo High School7%At least 20 years
Tucson SchoolRoskruge Bilingual Magnet Middle School9%At least 20 years

“Another key sentence from the voter-passed initiative, A.R.S. §15-752 states, ‘All children in Arizona public schools shall be taught English by being taught in English and all children shall be placed in English language classrooms’.

All the attendees rated our first structured English class for teachers this summer as 5 on a scale of 1-5.

This is consistent with our experience between 2003 and 2011. Teachers arrived at the training hostile because of the ideology they had been taught, but by the end of the course were giving the structured English immersion teachers a standing ovation, with consistently high evaluations.”