Ballot Argument Against Prop. 203

Arizona English Teachers Association

Fellow Citizens,

The Arizona English Teachers Association, dedicated to furthering the teaching of English, believes that strong English literacy, along with supportive parental involvement, are two critical factors in the academic success of language minority children. Ironically, the initiative sponsored by  "English for the Children" is dangerously misleading on both counts.

First, its one-year limit weakens English instruction. American teachers, who have helped to make English the world's most international language, know that English learners can quickly develop spoken English. However, reading and writing at grade level is a much more gradual process. Our experience in teaching English to immigrant students has taught us that three years of special instruction-Beginning ESL, Intermediate ESL and Advanced ESL-is the minimum amount of time required for students to attain grade level reading and writing skills.  Instead of this proven three-year program, the initiative gives students only one year before they are forced into regular classes where teachers may not have the time or expertise to deal with their unique needs-or would have to slow instruction for other students.

Secondly, it reduces parental involvement. Parents in every local community have a right to be involved in decisions affecting the type of instruction offered in their public schools. Thus, we oppose any law that would dictate only one method for all students, regardless of parents' wishes. The initiative arrogantly prohibits certain students even from applying for waivers and gives school officials the unprecedented power to reject parental requests "without explanation or legal consequence." In other words, pay your taxes and don't ask questions.

Reports on California's experiment, initially positive, now are quite troubling. One-year plans purport to help immigrant children yet actually limit their success in American schools. Arizonans should reject this punitive measure.

Mary Setliff,
AETA President

Salvador Gabaldon,