Horne toughens bilingual ed rules
Standards to start next school year
By Pat Kossan
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 14, 2003
Arizona's new schools chief, Tom Horne, is toughening the rules for how schools
can teach students who are just learning English.
The new directives will shut down some language courses, make it harder for
students to remain in bilingual classes and tighten state monitoring. The
standards will begin next school year.
"My success and legacy will depend on teaching students who are not native
English speakers and how well they learn," Horne said Thursday. "Their numbers
are large and growing."
Horne's rules will hurt, not help, a dual-language pilot project at Glendale
Elementary School District, Assistant Superintendent Karen Budan said.
"This will shut the door," Budan said. Instead, the 27 percent of English
learners in her district will be mainstreamed into regular classrooms.
The district will continue to train all of its teachers in special
English-immersion techniques to help those students survive.
Voters passed Proposition 203 two years ago, outlawing classes taught primarily
in Spanish and that used Spanish-language textbooks. The law called for
immersing English learners in classes taught only in English and using
But the law has what Horne calls loopholes. It allows students who speak English
fluently to participate in classes taught in both Spanish and English. Horne
said schools are abusing that privilege, accepting students who barely speak
English. His new rules won't allow that.
The law also allows some students to opt out of English-immersion classes with
permission from parents or school administrators, but Horne said schools take
advantage by encouraging flocks of students to remain in bilingual classes
instead. Horne will require schools to document why individual students
shouldn't attend English-immersion classes.