HomeAwardsNews 2009News 2008News 2007News 2006News 2005News 2004News 2003News 2002Forms

GoalsFeedbackResearchLinksLettersALECPicsTORNEO CommunityContactBoardEvents

Problems with this page?


Please contact Alejandra Sotomayor: asotomayor@azbilingualed.org



Respond to misinformation printed in the media by writing letters to the editor, opinion editorial pieces or to reporters. 

You don't know how? Click here for examples of items published in or sent to various media outlets.

More links to letters... 


Arizona department OF ED.


Click here for Parental Waiver Application

Click here for the AZ English Aquisition Services link


u.s. department OF ED.

Office of English Language Acquisition


You are visitor: Hit Counter


Searching for more articles related to learning English?

Follow this link   http://www.asu.edu/educ/epsl/lpru.htm





 The following letters and articles have been published or have been submitted for publication to various news media outlets.  Follow the links to view articles.

Sent to the North County Times, November 8, 2008

Proposition 227 didn't work
The North County Times accurately represented my position on evaluating bilingual education: Scientific studies are by far the best way, and these studies consistently show that children in bilingual programs do better on tests of English than children in all-English immersion classes ("Proposition 227: 10 years later," November 8).
Ron Unz, quoted in the same article, claims that standardized test scores show that dismantling bilingual education worked. That's not what the research says. A report from the American Institutes for Research and West Ed found no difference in the gains made by English learners in schools that kept bilingual education after Proposition 227 passed and those that did not.
Measures similar to 227 were passed in Arizona and Massachusetts, severely limiting bilingual education. As is the case in California, these measures have not helped children learn English any faster or better.
Proposition 227 should be reversed.
Stephen Krashen

Published in Education Week, October 22, 2008
 Latin study and English vocabulary: Only a temporary boost?
 Their title: Impact of school Latin: Good, But Temporary?
 Baynard Woods maintains that Latin study can help students increase their vocabulary and improve standardized test performance. ("Give Latin (and Potential Dropouts) a Chance," Sept. 22). Studies done over the last century appear to support this suggestion, but there is reason to be cautious.
 Latin provides readers with internal cues to word identification, cues within words, allowing those with some Latin to infer word meanings of many unfamiliar words of Latin origin. Knowledge of internal cues is particularly useful on tests that present words out of context, in isolation.
 In contrast, in acquiring vocabulary by reading, readers use cues external to the word, from the text and their prior knowledge. Readers gradually build up word meanings as they read, acquiring a small part of the meaning of new words each time they are encountered in print.
 It may be that Latin gives a temporary boost, allowing less advanced readers to look better on vocabulary tests. Reading, however, offers both a short and a long-term solution: Gains in vocabulary from reading are generally better than gains resulting from vocabulary study, and if students establish a reading habit, the gains continue
 In 1923, Thorndike provided evidence that Latin has only a temporary impact: High school Latin students excelled in English vocabulary after one year, but the difference was smaller after two years of Latin. Also, Latin students did clearly better than comparisons on a test of English reading comprehension after one semester, but the difference was smaller after one year.
 A better test of this hypothesis is to see whether there is a difference in vocabulary size and reading ability between widely read adults who have studied Latin and those who have not. If Latin only gives a temporary boost, there will be no difference between the groups.
 Stephen Krashen

Published in the Arizona Republic,  8/12/08

Raza studies deal with reality

I read with interest the columns in Sunday's Viewpoints section, "The debate over raza studies."

Although the program sounds a little left of center, it is dealing with real-life issues faced by Hispanic students and their families and it does not appear to be promoting racism or radicalism.

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom
Horne does not seem to address the reality of being Hispanic in the USA and the inherent racism that underlies our society. Horne 's thoughts soon get jumbled going from "individuals" and "beauty" to examples of teachers who did not like the program.

Obviously, the goal of education is to produce thoughtful, intelligent, aware young adults who can act and work within society. Teaching students to critically think rather than buy into CNN- or Fox-opinion-based news is a refreshing approach.

Although it is alarming that some students have loathing for the society they live in, when you take a close look at the history of White oppression of Native American, Mexican and Black peoples in this country, it is hardly surprising that this occurs.

All we can ask of Augustine F. Romero and Sean Arce is that they make sure the emphasis is on positive change within the communities.

-- Derek Fowler, Glendale

Published in the Oregon Statesman Journal, June 25, 2008

Immersion confusion
I wonder how many people have read the text of Initiative 19 ("Initiative set for ballot would curb bilingual ed").
The goal of this initiative, "English Immersion Required in Public Schools," is to immerse students in English; that is, be mainstreamed with English speaking students.
The text of the initiative, however, limits "English immersion" to one to two years depending on the age of the student. Taken literally, this means that after one to two years, English learners will be kicked out of school.
How did this initiative pass the pre-election review?
— Stephen Krashen

Published in the Arizona Republic, June 23, 2008

Canadian puzzled as Arizona dithers

I lived in Arizona from 1998 to 2003. I am now in Canada, but once in awhile I still read The Arizona Republic to stay informed.

I now think that Arizonans should take a good look at themselves. I am reading the same articles and the same letters that were being published 10 years ago.

Some like immigrants; some hate them. Some believe the state can be a leader in immigration reform. Some think the federal government should handle things, etc.

It looks to me as if Arizona is running in place. Nothing seems to get done.

Bilingual education was outlawed, and the state became one of the worst-educated. Proposition 200 against immigrants made a lot of noise but solved nothing.

Time is standing still in your state; do something already.

-- Alan Hubbard, Toronto, Ontario

Edition: Final Chaser
Section: Opinions
Page: B8
Dateline: AZ
Record Number: pho105637663

Sent to the Long Beach Press Telegram, June 23, 2008:

Re "English immersion proves its worth" (Comment, June 19):
(Columnist) Thomas Elias acknowledges that several academic reports conclude that dismantling bilingual education did not produce any improvement in English language development. Elias dismisses these reports as "balderdash."
As evidence that the reports must be wrong, and that English immersion is working, Elias claims that it is now easier to find people working in stores who speak English. As far as I know, there has been no survey done of any kind showing this.
Also, Elias claims that improvements in test scores on the state English test show that English immersion is working. But scores could improve for reasons that have nothing to do with higher English competence. Scores could be up because the same test is used for several years in a row, which results in teachers and students becoming more familiar with the test. Scores could also be up because of higher reclassification standards, which means that more higher-scoring children are classified as English learners.
The only way to see if programs are working is the use of controlled scientific studies that take these factors into consideration. These studies have been done and consistently show no positive impact of dropping bilingual education.
Elias, however, thinks we should ignore scientific studies.
Stephen Krashen

Published in the Arizona Republic June 19, 2008

Tucson taxpayer backs raza studies

Regarding "Expanding Marxism" (Editorial, June 11):

At first glance, your editorial on Tucson Unified School Districts raza-studies program and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne's show of state force in the Old Pueblo on Friday showed all the signs of good ol' Phoenix WASP paternalism.

Then, it started to sink in, and I realized you were both just doing this to offer a useful lesson on intolerance for the benefit of the students.

Your editorial asks, "Is this (raza-studies program) the vision of America that parents and taxpayers of Tucson wish to impart to their students?"

As a TUSD taxpayer, I support the idea of motivating students by exposing them to different views of our country.

How boring and dishonest would the study of history and contemporary culture be if they were portrayed only in the most acceptable and least controversial terms? - Douglas Koppinger, Tucson

Sent to the Arizona Daily Star, June 18, 2008

Re: Districts have better plan on English learners, 6/18/08 

We are now reaping a most costly consequence resulting from what Arizona voters sowed: practically removing bilingual education as the method to teach limited English proficient students in passing Prop 203 in 2000.  

Since this law, limited English student have languished in the poorly constructed classroom methods created by the Arizona Department of Education led by Superintendent Tom Horne. The cost of educating these students as also sky-rocketed.  The latest program attempt will help launch many federal law suits. All this will costs taxpayers even more money as Horne attempts to fight for bad policy making and disproven methods. 

It’s time politician and the voting public admit that philosophy doesn’t always create good practice or policy. Allow educators to do what they know works best for their students.

Alejandra Sotomayor, Retired Educator

Sent to the Arizona Daily Star, June 10, 2008

Re: Districts have better plan on English learners, 6/10/08

We are now reaping a most costly consequence resulting from what Arizona voters sowed: practically removing bilingual education as the method to teach limited English proficient students in passing Prop 203 in 2000.

Since this law, limited English student have languished in the poorly constructed classroom methods created by the Arizona Department of Education led by Superintendent Tom Horne. The cost of educating these students as also sky-rocketed.  The latest program attempt will help launch many federal law suits. All this will costs taxpayers even more money as Horne attempts to fight for bad policy making and disproven methods.

It’s time politicians and the voting public admit that philosophy doesn’t always create good practice or policy. Allow educators to do what they know works best for their students.

Alejandra Sotomayor, Retired Educator

Published in the Arizona Daily Star June 1, 2008

State's ELL plan won't work


Re: the May 24 article, "Sahuarita rebuffs state on ELL."

Sahuarita School District's refusal to implement the four-hour ELL plan was the right thing to do. Its job is to do what is best for children.

In creating this law, the state and schools superintendent Tom Horne have completely disregarded what is best for children. They have created a one-size-fits-all law that ignores research on how children learn language and individual differences between children.

The state's plan would be ineffective and costly, and is underfunded.

It is also discriminatory and will result in an even more abysmal graduation rate because ELL students will learn English even more slowly and they will not have access to required classes.

We would never allow our legislators to tell a physician how to perform heart surgery. How can we let them micromanage how schools teach?

Jamie Volkmer

Teacher, Tucson


Published in the Arizona Daily Star May 28, 2008

Do what's right for students http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/240940

Re: the May 24 article "Sahuarita rebuffs state on ELL."

As a parent, my main concern is doing what's in the best interest of my children. As an educator, my main concern is the same.

I commend the Sahuarita Unified School District for its commitment to promoting a similar philosophy.

There are many of us out there whose primera lengua was Spanish. Is it fair that I was paddled by my teacher for speaking Spanish in my classroom in the late '60s? I am proud to say I am an American of Mexican descent.

Educators in the Sahuarita Unified School District are not blatantly disregarding state law.

Pulling any student out of the classroom for four hours of instruction in their primary language is impossible to implement without segregating. Besides, what the teacher doesn't get across is taught and modeled by English-speaking peers.

Tom Horne, state superintendent of public instruction, needs to head south with his posse and actually see how effective it can be to keep our English language learners with their peers.

Vivian Dunbar

Educator, Tucson

Sent to the Arizona Daily Star May 28, 2008

Arizona’s One-Year-to-English Delusion 

State Schools Chief Tom Horne shouldn’t be “shocked” that some educators may ignore state law regarding English learners (“Sahuarita rebuffs state on ELL,” May 24).  He’s ignored the idiotic law for years. 

Ever since voters fell for Proposition 203’s preposterous claims, Horne and his pals in the legislature have engaged in a fool’s errand.  Like alchemists searching desperately for a philosopher’s stone, they seek to magically convert ELLs into English literate and proficient students in “a period not normally intended to excede one year.”

 But the absurd law also requires that a “nationally-normed written test” (currently the Terra Nova portion of AIMS) be administered annually to “all Arizona public schoolchildren in grades 2 and higher” and that “only students classified as severely learning disabled may be exempted.”

 Without even an abracadabra, Horne has exempted all Arizona students—tens of thousands—in grades 10, 11 and 12.  Illusionist or not, perhaps what he’s really shocked about is that he somehow has gotten away with such flagrant violation of law for so many years.

Salvador Gabaldon, Teacher, Tucson

Published in the Arizona Republic, May 11, 2008

Double standard in defining 'American'

My grandfather was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1883. My great-grandfather was also born in Texas in approximately 1863.

My father was born in New Mexico in 1907. I was born in New Mexico in 1933.

My mother was born in Durango, Mexico, in 1907. She came to New Mexico in 1919. She later became a U.S. citizen.

Yet, with all this behind me, I am still looked at as a "Mexican."

If a person comes here from Europe, legal or otherwise, he is looked as an "American."

Why is that? - Angel H. Chaires, Phoenix

Published in USA Today, 5/5/08


In his letter to the editor, USA TODAY reader Wesley Ross wrote: "The fact that many illegal immigrants take advantage of our economic system, send their earnings back over the border and don't learn English is exactly why the current wave of immigrants is so problematic" ("Duty to assimilate," May 1).

I think the idea that immigrants don't learn English is a mistaken notion among many Americans. In my experience, it is simply not true. I have volunteered at a school with many immigrant students. Even those who don't know a word of English when they arrive do learn to communicate in an amazingly short period of time.

Some Spanish-written signs in public places might even be received as special treatment for immigrants. Have immigrants "demanded" any of these Spanish-language signs? I think not. Most of the time, the inclusion of information in Spanish is the result of local governments' attempts to run things more efficiently or of businesses that want Spanish-speaking people as customers.

Edwin F. Meyer - Sarasota, Fla.

Published in the Arizona Republic, April 21, 2008

We all are looking for better lives

Regarding "Hispanics too blase about immigration" (Letters, April 14):

While I understand the letter writer's perspective, I thoroughly disagree. I believe that every person should be treated equally, regardless of ethnicity.

If they learn to speak English, we should learn to speak Spanish, because it will allow for more compatibility.

We will be able to comprehend and communicate with each other better.

The Hispanic community has every right to believe that illegal immigrants are entitled to the same blessings as U.S. citizens.

These immigrants are coming to our nation in hopes of finding a better home for their families. Why must we act superior or above them, when in reality they are just people looking to better there own lives, which is part of the American dream. - Alyson Kawam, Tempe

Published in the Arizona Republic April 20, 2008

Portrait of an American family

I am from an American family of Mexican descent.

My great-grandfather was a mechanic on the Phoenix trolley line at the turn of the previous century. My great-uncle died in an aviation training accident in World War I. My godfather fought in the Battle of the Bulge and once showed me the frostbite scars on his feet. I remember going to a funeral for my father's cousin who died in Vietnam.

My grandfather was the most honest, hardworking man you could ever find. My father owned a business that employed dozens of people. In my family, you will find doctors, dentists, lawyers and business executives.

My family and I have lived the quintessential American life. And there are thousands of people like us in Phoenix.

But now, I have to worry that, because I look Hispanic, I have been targeted by a self-aggrandizing megalomaniac.

It makes me sick to think that if I don't properly signal before I make a lane change, one of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's undervetted, undertrained posse members can pull me over and demand that I show proof of my citizenship. It makes me angry to think that if I refuse to do so, I can be hauled off to a jail system where inmates who have yet to be convicted of anything are routinely humiliated and occasionally beaten or choked to death.

To all the people who cheer for Sheriff Joe, to all the radio talk-show blowhards, to all the people who need to revisit the Fourth Amendment, I ask that you simply put yourself in my shoes.

If you continue to justify the actions of a frothy-mouthed madman and can continue to dismiss the concerns of people like me, you need to reconsider.

Right now, it is the Hispanics' turn to be harassed by unconstitutional, un-American tactics. One day, it may be yours. - Kevin Salcido, Phoenix

Published in the Arizona Daily Star, April 16, 2008

Lawmaker must learn to read http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/234534

Re: the April 10 article "Increased funds for English on fast track."

Rep. Mark Anderson appears to have some difficulty reading laws in English. He reportedly believes that "voters specifically directed in 2000 that the only acceptable method of teaching English is immersion."

In fact, the largest portion of that law (ARS 15-753) is about how students may learn English in bilingual education.

Talk about irony.

Salvador Gabaldon, Teacher, Tucson

Published in the Arizona Republic April 13, 2008

What if sheriff pursued Anglo illegals?

Many are cheering for Joe Arpaio to continue his very public battle against illegal immigration. Think about what would happen if the tables are turned and Joe starts looking at the problem of illegal immigration of European nationals. You know? The White illegals. Do you think that would sit well?

Illegal is illegal, but we do not need to set in place behaviors to solve the brown illegal immigration problem that would be offensive if applied to the White community. - Hilton Roberts,Gilbert


Published in the Arizona Republic, April 11, 2008

I am very puzzled by the letters I have seen in The Arizona Republic that claim that you have to speak English to be an American ("Live in America? Be an American," Tuesday). Isn't English the official language of England?

What am I missing here? Are we still a colony? - Jim McManus,Phoenix

Published in the Arizona Daily Star, April 9, 2008


Our differences make nation great

Roses of red, white and blue to Anne Lee, second-grade teacher from Gale Elementary school who encourages her students to learn the Pledge of Allegiance in different languages; and thorns to the father — a Minuteman Civil Defense Corps member — who complained about her. He will only teach his child ignorance by pulling him out of the classroom.

The last time I checked, we all live in America. Doesn't that make English a foreign language?

The beauty of our country is that its citizens come from an array of different backgrounds, nationalities, ethnicities and diverse cultures. Although I do agree that we should learn the Pledge of Allegiance in our native tongue first, we should also learn it in the voice of our neighbors.

So let us begin in the languages of Apache, Sioux, Cherokee, Shoshonee, tribes east of the Mississippi, west of the Mississippi, and so forth; since they are truly our only original "citizens."

David Membrila - Educator, Tucson  

Published in the Arizona Daily Star, April 9,2008  

Impeding learning is a tragedy

I am intrigued that many "loyal" Americans do not want the pledge recited in Spanish because it is not our "native" language.

It reminds me of my father, who learned German by working in a German delicatessen in St. Louis during the 1930s. One customer spoke with such a thick German accent that my father asked him to repeat his order, to which this customer, upset, replied: "What kind of an American are you if you do not know your native language?"

One has to ask just what is our "native" language? No wonder we are behind so many other industrialized countries whose people can speak multiple languages. How tragic it is any time someone impedes learning.

Scott A. Krasner - Physician, Tucson  

Published in the Arizona Daily Star, April 9,2008  

Short tale of ignorance

The fuss about reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish is reminiscent of the tale of a Board of Education meeting in the rural Midwest over whether to include a foreign language in the primary school curriculum.

An opponent expressed his strong objection by standing up and proclaiming, "If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough for my kids!"

Jack Eddy - Astronomer, SaddleBrooke  

Published in the Arizona Daily Star, April 9,2008  

Teacher's intent far from malicious

I do respect what the complaining father has done for our borders with the Minutemen group. I feel he is unnecessarily bringing the spotlight to an elementary school when there are much larger issues that need attention.

My daughter is in Anne Lee's class at Gale Elementary School. I find it interesting that the father just found out last week that his son was reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish when it was in the biweekly newsletter from Lee as early as September.

If you could see the proud faces of these 7- and 8-year-olds when they say the Pledge of Allegiance, then in Spanish and then in American Sign Language, you would realize that Lee's intent is far from malicious, unpatriotic or disrespectful.

My daughter sung them to us playing her "made in China" guitar that she bought from Spanish-speaking people at the Fourth Avenue Street Fair. The people that heard her sing it said, "Now that is cute, you can tell she is proud." That is the point. She is proud to recite the pledge in these three languages.

Holly Dudash - Health-care worker, Tucson  

Published in the Arizona Daily Star, April 9,2008  

Teach pledge in many languages

As long as the Pledge of Allegiance is recited in English and it includes all the words, including the controversial "under God," I think the schools have done their patriotic duty.

I wouldn't care if they recited it in Klingon after that. As a matter of fact, if it is recited in other languages, I think it brings honor and respect to our country.

What next? We stop teaching foreign languages in schools because it's disloyal to our country?

Laura Dwyer - Retired, Tucson  

Published in the Arizona Daily Star, April 9,2008

Father needs lesson on patriotism

I see this exercise as an opportunity to teach children foreign languages and a respect for people of other nations. I think it's important to remember that immigrants are the ones who truly appreciate the freedom that Americans take for granted.

They speak broken English or no English, but their hearts are full of love for this country and its opportunities.

My grandparents were immigrants from Poland and Russia and could speak very little English. My grandmother could only speak Yiddish and she was the sweetest little lady on this Earth.

Perhaps that Minuteman father needs to take part in that Pledge of Allegiance exercise. He might learn a thing or two about patriotism.

Diane Saull - Office administrator, Tucson  

Published in the Arizona Daily Star, April 9,2008

Public must work to halt racism

In the last weeks I have noticed syndicated columnists and local letter writers criticizing Sen. Barack Obama for his alleged tardiness in denouncing his minister's allegedly hateful sermons. Today's front page detailed a local hate group's most recent attempt to spread their particularly nasty brand of racism and reactionism.

Why aren't the same people who denounce Obama denouncing the hatefulness, fearmongering and divisiveness propagated by the Minutemen?

As Obama recently said in his brilliant speech about race in America, racism and hate are too prevalent in this country, and the responsibility for it lies on all of us.

Maggie McQuaid - Retired legal investigator, Bisbee  

Published in the Arizona Daily Star, April 9,2008

English is foreign

The father pulled his child out of a second-grade classroom in Tucson because the children were saying the Pledge of Allegiance daily in three languages: English, Spanish and American Sign Language. He doesn't think the pledge should be recited in a foreign language. What language does he speak? American?

Charles Gilmore - Retired elementary teacher, Tucson  

Published in the Arizona Daily Star, April 9,2008

Spanish speakers are patriotic

The people causing the uproar over reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish are forgetting all the Spanish-speaking individuals who have served or currently serve in the U.S. military.

Many of these Latino soldiers (like my father, a decorated World War II veteran) were born in other countries and came to the United States to enjoy and defend the freedoms of our country. These soldiers have, continue to and will always speak Spanish in the defense of our country.

To disrespect their sacrifices by denying a Spanish-spoken Pledge of Allegiance is traitorous.

Carlos Encinas - Educator, Tucson  

Published in the Arizona Daily Star, April 9,2008

A learning tool

When I saw the headline on this story, my first thought was that someone had objected to saying the pledge in school because it mentioned God and, of course, TUSD had caved.

Although born in the United States, English wasn't my first language. I didn't learn to speak English until I was 10 and there were no English-language-learner classes in those days.

To say the Pledge of Allegiance in more than one language is a great learning experience for both Anglos and Hispanic children. The complaining father should get a life.

Bob Knoll, Tucson

Published in the ASU Devil, March 20, 2008

Unnecessary to punish illegal peers

(In response to Monday's column by T.J. Shope titled "Crow, ASU slapping state voters in face")

I am frightened of the trajectory immigration enforcement Arizona has taken in the past few years.

Some Arizonans shrilly cry, "Speak English" and "They're all uneducated," and then go on to prevent the same immigrants from attending English classes and obtaining in-state tuition (both by referendum). I find that T.J. Shope's column, which chastises the ASU Foundation for providing financial assistance (in the face of a xenophobic and discriminatory voter mandate) and ASU in general for helping to arrange for other nonprofit foundations to do the same, simply offer the same empty, shortsighted rhetoric. Punish the "illegals," the long-term consequences be damned.

I don't see any reason whatsoever why it is beneficial to Arizona to suspend support for committed students. Perhaps somebody can explain to me how making schooling more difficult to obtain helps anyone, or society in general, in the long run. Just in terms of lifetime tax contributions alone, Arizona probably reaps a massive benefit from almost anyone it educates in its colleges — documented or undocumented. I think it is a shame that Arizona voters and elected officials seem drawn to short term satisfaction (discrimination) as opposed to the real benefits that they might reap from immigrant integration — which grows as immigrants earn college degrees.

As an ASU alum, I support any and all efforts ASU can make to keep undocumented students enrolled. I was proud of the ASU Foundation for offering assistance in the first place. I now applaud the American Dream Fund Coalition for continuing the effort.

Elizabeth Venable

Published in the ASU Devil, March 19, 2008 http://www.asuwebdevil.com/issues/2008/03/19/opinions/704176

Not everyone voted "No" on Prop 300

(In response to Monday's column by T.J. Shope titled "Crow, ASU slapping state voters in face")

In T.J. Shope's article, he stated that President Crow and the ASU Foundation is slapping state voters in the face because, despite Proposition 300, they are still assisting illegal immigrant students by helping to match them with private donors for their now out-of-state tuition.

Shope is of the opinion that this is somehow the opinion of everyone in the state of Arizona. It is not. There are many people who voted against this proposition because it is not only wrong from a moral standpoint, but it is also inhumane. To punish a child for the crimes of the parent has always been considered morally repugnant. It is no less so for children brought here by their parents illegally who grow up to be good students and decent contributors to the society. There are people who are born with the "privilege" of citizenship who would do well to be as conscientious.

I am sure that someone else would point out that the majority vote is what is carried into law. It is possible for a law to be wrong or even inhumane. No matter what the situation is, if a law or an order is in contradiction to basic human principles, then I think it is our obligation and duty to defy it by any legal means (and sometimes illegal) necessary. Perhaps the "spirit of the law" (as Shope said) is exactly what's wrong. I think ASU and Crow have found an elegant solution that is legal and still rewards students who have worked hard academically. The whole idea that this is taking money from students who are citizens is just xenophobic envy and hate. What are we making of our country? If we are to honor and value education, we must make sure that it is without prejudice — education should be for everyone. And if a student has shown his or her merit academically, he or she is worthy of the support of all of us!

Susan Bernard

Published in the Arizona Republic March 17, 2008

Border defenders mum on Canadian

When illegals are mentioned in The Arizona Republic, whether it be positive or negative, there is usually a rash of letters to the editor stating how illegals are bad or they should be deported, or how our country has been taken over by people from south of our border.

It has been several weeks now, and there has been not one peep from people against illegal immigration regarding the Canadian here working illegally for the Phoenix Convention Center.

The Canadian's work visa expired on Feb. 1. The convention center spent $16,000 of city of Phoenix money to try to get a visa for this person, to no avail. The position the Canadian has can easily be filled by a person from Arizona. It is not a difficult position to fill.

So where is Sheriff Joe Arpaio? Why has he not arrested this person? Where are all the people against illegal immigration? Why haven't they protested the hiring and the spending of $16,000?

I think we all know the answer to those questions. - Richard Haro,Peoria

Published in the Tucson Citizen March 13, 2008

Wading into English harder than jumping in

What is the true cost of educating English -language learners? That's the real question, because the Legislature has to fund an English immersion program effective this fall for more than 130,000 students.

It doesn't really matter that district superintendents say the cost is $304 million and state Superintendent Tom Horne says it's $40.6 million.

The bickering has to stop - now. The issues are the number and quality of teachers needed and how much classroom space they'll need to educate English learners four hours a day, five days a week.

The English Language Learner Task Force should reconvene, study these issues and recommend appropriate funding. The panel also should engage the School Facilities Board to make recommendations on space, considering what the superintendents and Horne have to say.

Many educators and researchers question the new program model, which requires English learners to be separated by ability into four groups and sent to different classrooms.

Expert after expert has said language is best acquired by immersing learners in the culture and language alongside their English -speaking peers, supported with rich, meaningful instruction focused on experience.

The goal must be to enable these children to succeed, which benefits us all in the long run.

High-performing education systems worldwide target funds and other resources to those students who need them most. Those systems also determine for themselves how to classify and teach students in need.

The Arizona crisis continues to be an embarrassment, not only because it has been ongoing for 16 years, but also because Arizona had a budget surplus in many of those years.

VICKI BALENTINE, President, Arizona Board of Education

Superintendent, Amphitheater Public Schools

Sent to the Arizona Republic March 12, 2008:

C. Erickson's lambasting of President Crow today in the Valley and State Section was not well reasoned. What Dr. Crow did benefits not just the students but our country in a long run. The United States has a long record of brain drain, attracting the best and brightest from other countries and keeping those scholars and workers here. They become tax-paying citizens and contribute much to make life better for all Americans. Given the global economy we live in, would the writer rather listen to politicians who pander with their empty talk of border control and to the business community who continues to outsource jobs away? Americans need to be learn more languages, become more skilled, travel more, collaborate more while they compete and become more true citizens of the world. The N. 1 cowboy mentality which has dominated the Washington DC script works against our competitiveness and our ability to maintain our leadership role in the world. 

Quan Cao

Published in the Arizona Daily Star March 9, 2008

English plan is rife with issues

Re: the March 4 article "Horne: Cost of English instruction is $40.6M."


I am disappointed that the Star is only covering the money problems with HB 2064. There are so many problems with the requirements for English language development classes for ELLs besides money.

Research shows this type of education is detrimental to the students and is ineffective in teaching English.

People need realize that "one size does not fit all," especially when educating our children.

The Star has a responsibility to inform the public of what a bad idea this is and what their children will be facing.

Jamie Volkmer, Teacher, Tucson

Published in the Arizona Republic March 8, 2008:

Policies create subclass of people

Regarding "Immigrants can find way to get degree" (Letters, Feb. 22):

In relation to the termination of the Sunburst scholarships for undocumented immigrants at Arizona State University, the writer justly asks, "Why don't the students do what our daughter, son and daughter-in-law are doing by working, going part time and getting student loans?"

And later he adds, "Please let me know if there is a law out there to prevent them from going this route."

Well, there are several laws and they are bundled in what is now our immigration law. That's why we say the immigration system is broken.

The students affected do not have a Social Security number, cannot work, cannot apply for loans and on top of that they have their tuition tripled. Now, thanks to the anti-education legislators who create "laws" against young people, they cannot receive scholarships.

Many of the students affected will gladly work their way to school but even working full time at the most humble of jobs, they would never have enough to pay their tripled tuition.

What people do not know is we are creating a subclass of persons in this country with the very same people we should support for the sake of our future economy.

The students affected are accomplished American-educated students that, given the opportunity, will fill jobs in areas where there is need for professionals (teaching, nursing, engineering etc.).

In spite of the adversity, the students have not lost faith in America, the country they call home. They know that hard work and determination are always rewarded in this country. We are waiting for the DREAM Act, a bipartisan legislation that will provide not amnesty, but a path to legalization to students with proven talent and good moral character.

We need to encourage talented human resources in our country to develop and give opportunities to those who are being denied a Social Security number to work hard for their dream of education and our dream of a better future for our country. - Carmen Cornejo, Chandler


Sent to the Arizona Daily Star, March 7, 2008:

About English Learners Students (State must properly fund English classes, 3/5/08)

Arizona's English-learner students continue to lag behind statewide average test results. Recently the courts stated, “When Arizona moved away from bilingual education regardless of students’ language abilities, these challenges have become greater.”  

How can it be that the cheapest and most effective method for teaching these children is a method that is practically outlawed in Arizona?

 In other words, Tom Horne and his appointed staff at the AZ Dept. of Ed have created a costly situation for both tax payers and students.  They have created national mockery of education in this state.  It’s time to clean-up the Arizona Department of Education with a staff who knows about education.

 Alejandra Sotomayor, Retired Arizona Educator

Sent to the Oregonian, March 7, 2008
The state of Oregon claims that English learners are doing much better under a new teaching method that emphasizes grammar (“English as a proficient language,” March 6, 2008). Not mentioned by those quoted in the Oregonian, however, is the fact that the measures used have changed: On their website, the Oregon State Department of Education announced that “In the past, schools were allowed to use a variety of tests, but this year we have standardized testing …”
To see if there really was an improvement, the same measure needs to be used.
Here is an example: Let’s compare two years of algebra instruction, and let’s assume the students in each class are equally capable and motivated. In last year’s algebra class, 35% of the students got A’s. This year, with a new teacher 50% got A’s. Is the new teacher better, or is she just an easier grader?

Unless the students take the same tests, we can’t tell.
Before we make extraordinary claims about the impact of different teaching styles, a proper scientific analysis needs to be done.
Stephen Krashen

Sent to the Arizona Republic March 3, 2008:

Ken Ogilvie wonders (“What's this struggle to learn English?” Mar. 2) whether students’ are really struggling under Tom Horne’s mandate that they be forced to endure four hours of English grammar and language every day for an entire year.  The struggle should be apparent to anyone.  After that kind of abuse, it will take an awful lot of struggling to avoid developing a profound disdain for the study of language. 

Salvador Gabaldón, Oro Valley, Arizona

Published in the Arizona Republic Feb. 29, 2008:


The court is there to fix our mistakes

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne asks if "we live in a representative republic, or are we being dictated to by a lifetime judiciary" ("English-learner case strains Arizona's coffers," Republic, Tuesday).

Sometimes, the judiciary needs to bring us back from misguided notions and unsound principles as is the case with underfunding the English-language program and insisting on poor methodology to teach these children. Without this judiciary check, we can become unbalanced as a nation creating laws from popular culture and sentiment while ignoring justice.

A thousand times, I would prefer that all my tax money be used to adequately fund education in Arizona. - Alejandra Sotomayor, Laveen
The writer is a retired middle-school teacher.

Published in the Korea Times, Feb. 28, 2008
Two Steps to Take
I'm writing in response to a Feb. 25 Korea Times article, ``English Education Needs to Start at Earlier Ages.''
Prof. Ahn Young-sop is 100 percent correct when he points out that the overemphasis on testing is hurting English language education in Korea.
The situation is the same worldwide, and the only ones who profit are companies that produce the tests and test-preparation materials.
His suggestion of expanding the use of English in media also makes sense. Research in language acquisition tells us that we acquire language when we understand what we hear and what we read, and media can provide a great deal of ``comprehensible input."
Studies done over the last decade, largely in Asia, confirm that wide self-selected recreational reading has a powerful effect on English language development for students of English as a foreign language, and those who establish a reading habit in English will continue to improve as long as they keep reading.
Prof. Cho Kyung-sook of the Busan National University of Education has been an important contributor to this research. The obvious step to take is to vastly improve English collections in public libraries and school libraries.
Another obvious step to take is to increase the amount of English aural input. Fortunately, this can be done for free, through http://www.eslpod.com, which provides a wide variety of listening experiences for intermediate students of English as a foreign language.
Increasing written and aural input will be far more effective and far less expensive than other paths, such as the establishment of English villages, starting English very early, and hiring more foreign teachers.
Stephen Krashen,
Professor emeritus
University of Southern California

Published in the Arizona Republic Feb. 27, 2008:

AIMS tutoring halt is heavy with irony

Regarding "AIMS tutoring canceled" (Valley & State, Sunday):

The Arizona Department of Education announces the decision to halt funding for AIMS tutoring the same week that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announces its findings that Arizona is not doing enough to meet the needs of English-language learners.

It would be interesting to know the demographics of the students who availed themselves of the tutoring in their efforts to meet the state standards for graduation. Could it be that students whose needs are not being met in the classroom now cannot count on extra help outside the school day, though they are willing to expend extra effort?

More information would be helpful. - Katrina Romijn, Peoria

Sent to the Arizona Republic Feb. 26, 2008:

Superintendent Tom Horne asks if “we live in a representative republic, or are we being dictated to by a lifetime judiciary” (Feb. 26, 2008).  Sometimes the judiciary needs to bring us back from misguided notions and unsound principles as is the case with underfunding the English language program and insisting on poor methodology to teach these children.  Without this judiciary check we can become unbalanced as a nation creating laws from popular culture and sentiment while ignoring justice.  

A thousand times, I would prefer that all my tax money be used to adequately fund education in Arizona. 

Alejandra Sotomayor, Retired Middle School Teacher

Sent to the Arizona Republic Feb. 23, 2008:

The courts have ruled Arizona's English-learner students continue to lag behind statewide average test results stating “When Arizona moved away from bilingual education regardless of students’ language abilities, these challenges have become greater.” (Appeals court upholds judge's order on ELL deadline for Arizona, 2/23/08) 

In other words, Tom Horne and his appointed staff at the AZ Dept. of Ed have created a costly situation for both tax payers and students. It’s time to place a highly qualified educator in the State Superintendent office that can place equally qualified educators in key positions.

 They have created national mockery of education in Arizona.

 Alejandra Sotomayor, an Embarrassed Retired Arizona Bilingual Educator

Sent to the Arizona Republic Feb. 23, 2008:

A federal appeals panel ruled Friday that English-language instruction law is so flawed that it ‘may well retard or reverse whatever progress has been’ made in the instruction of more than 134,000 Arizona children who are struggling to learn English,” the Republic (Feb 23) reported.

 The Republic noted that the panel said “officials could resolve the case by abandoning the two-year funding cutoff and declining to consider federal funds in the grant-making process.”

 That would help, but the problems are now much deeper. Tom Horne (R), our state superintendent who aspires to the governor’s office, and the state’s ELL Task Force have profoundly weakened the quality of English learner education programs by insisting on antiquated approaches which are certain to lower academic outcomes for these students in the ensuing years.

 Horne will get boasting rights with political allays, while the state’s English learners continue to suffer as the establishment’s cherished political football.

Jeff MacSwan, Chandler, Arizona

The writer is associate professor of education and director of the Applied Linguistics Program at Arizona State University.

Published in the Arizona Republic, Feb. 20, 2008:

Ending ASU scholarships loses talent

It is sad that Arizona State University President Michael Crow gave in to the blackmailing from the no-nothing, pro-ignorance party ("ASU ends scholarships for illegal immigration," Republic, Saturday). Proposition 300 was a gift to Arizona from the same people who believe that education is harmful to children. These are the same folks who, without sound arguments, complain about immigrants not assimilating, want to slam the door in the face of those children who have assimilated the most.

Hope is on the way, as it is proof that all of the candidates who favored an ignorant, extreme and inhumane approach to immigration and treating our undocumented in our midst (Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo, Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee) are being rejected not only by the thinking Republican voter but by the majority of the electorate.

-- Marcos Garciaacosta, Chandler

Sent to the Arizona Republic, Feb. 7, 2008:

Mark Ryan's column ("Bilingual learning can help students," Feb 7) pointed out that effective educational programs for English Learners in Arizona would be well served by using children's native language as one piece of a complex puzzle. While learning English is crucial for these students, so is keeping pace academically. By teaching school subjects bilingually for the first two or three years, we help English Learners keep up academically so they don't fall behind and pay a price in subsequent grades.

An enormous amount of program evaluation research backs up this simple idea. Five independent research summaries have been produced in recent years, each with the same conclusion: Teaching English Learners bilingually improves their performance in school!

Unfortunately, as Mr. Ryan pointed out, these issues are highly politicized in Arizona. Until our elected officials move beyond politics and look to sound research and educational practice to inform their decisions, teachers' hands will remain tied in their efforts to create excellent programs for some of the state's newest students.

Jeff MacSwan
Chandler, Arizona

The writer is associate professor of education and applied linguistics at Arizona State University.

Sent to the NEA February, 2008:

Hard to believe that teachers would submit letters attacking immigrant children (“Immigration Backlash,” February). One threatens them with deportation; the other accuses them of leading “lifestyles of illegality.”

Being below the age of consent, undocumented children are neither criminals nor illegal. The Supreme Court has ruled that our Constitution secures for these children the right to a public education in our nation’s public schools. If anyone’s guilty of a crime, it’s those who would shamelessly use their military service or their “concern” as citizens to justify a desire to deny children their legal rights.

--Salvador Gabaldón
--Stephanie Gabaldón
Oro Valley, AZ

Published in the Arizona Daily Star Jan. 29, 2008


Don't isolate English learners

Re: Jan. 23 article "Board OKs English-learner program."

I wonder what is really going on with the plan to pull students not proficient in English out of mainstream classrooms for four hours every day.

I applaud Adelita Grijalva for her lone dissenting TUSD school board vote. To address this issue sensibly, a one-hour after-school program or a summer program would make far more sense. Removing children from their English-speaking peers is counterproductive.

This move is not only inappropriate, but costly at a time we have a budget short fall.

So I wonder, what is the hidden agenda here? In a guest opinion, Kathleen Bethel, a principal at a Sunnyside elementary school, thinks it's a move toward segregation. Whatever it is, it's a stupid plan and I'm shocked.

Virginia Desmond, Tucson

Published in the Arizona Republic, Jan. 28, 2008:

We don't need more illiterate citizens

A letter writer stated in The Republic that "most of these students," meaning English-language learners, "are illegal immigrants" ("English-learning program a burden," Letters, Friday).

I have worked as a volunteer teaching English to ELLs. Most of them were born in the U.S. and therefore are citizens, regardless of the status of their parents.

The writer goes on to say that the government is already spending too much money "without considering the extra cost of students who can't speak English."

Teaching them to speak English isn't the main problem. Most of the kids I have worked with speak it fluently. What they do need to learn in school is to read and write English, as do all students.

The money spent teaching ELLs to read and write English is money well-spent. What we don't need in this country are more ignorant, illiterate citizens. - Bobbi Dugan,
Queen Creek

Published in the Arizona Republic, Jan. 3, 2008:

Looking for a job? '¡Buena suerte!'

Regarding "Why do I need Spanish to get a job?" (Letters, Saturday):

The letter writer found the requirement of bilingualism or Spanish a "frustrating trend" and expressed hope the new sanctions law will offer more opportunities and job choices. Perhaps what's limiting is her smug attitude that she knows better than her potential employer what skills are needed for the employer's business to succeed.

Nonetheless, she'll undoubtedly be able to fulfill her wish of new opportunities with the wide array of newly vacated jobs - cleaning hotel toilets and offices, farm fieldhand, construction laborer, trash collector, summer roofer, nanny and fanny wiper, among others. She can be comforted knowing the only language needed is the language of hard work.

As a recent Arizona resident, she may be interested to know that Spanish was spoken in this region years before her English language arrived in these here parts. Ah, xenophobia must be such a comforting attitude for the closed mind.

¡Buena suerte! to her and other lingually limited applicants for the choice jobs awaiting them. Otherwise, they may wish to fill some of the language classroom openings made possible by departed worker students. - Roberto A. Reveles,
Gold Canyon


 Arizona Debate continues...

(Point mouse on scroll to stop)


IMPORTANT ELL NEWS 2009...The US Supreme court has agreed to decide if Arizona is providing the needed money for ELL programs. News article available on AABE News 2009 link (Jan. 9). Check back for updates. 


What's next?
Don't forget to thank Tim Hogan (thogan@aclpi.org) as he continues his tireless advocacy for English language learners. Also, remember to continue to support advocates in public service who side with justice for children!

Our action makes a difference! PLEASE RETURN FOR ACTION UPDATES FOR 2009 


 AABE is a NABE Affiliate Member


Problems with this page? Contact asotomayor@azbilingualed.org