Ballot Argument Against Prop. 203

Arizona Language Education Council

Fundamentally this election is about two principles that an English-only law would jeopardize:
  • parents’ right to choose the education they want for their children, and
  • local school boards’ right to decide what kinds of instruction are appropriate.
Arizonans have long cherished and defended these rights. But the initiative, bankrolled entirely by out-of-state interests, threatens to destroy our traditions of parental choice and local control of education. It would:
  • impose a statewide, one-size-fits-all curriculum for all children whose English is limited;
  • mandate an arbitrary, one-year English program for students who now receive, on average, 3-4 years of special help in learning English;
  • threaten stiff financial penalties for any teacher, administrator, or school board member who resists; and
  • force Hispanic and Native American parents to declare their kids mentally retarded to qualify for “waivers” of the English-only rule.
Initiative sponsors claim (without much evidence) to speak for immigrants who are disaffected with bilingual education and who favor other ways of teaching English. But consider these facts:
  • Only 30 percent of Arizona’s limited-English students are now enrolled in bilingual classrooms; 70 percent already receive all their instruction in English.
  • Under current law, Arizona parents may remove their children from bilingual education at any time. They don’t need an initiative.
  • Where offered, bilingual programs are extremely popular. Last year, in the Tucson and Sunnyside school districts, 99 percent of the parents of eligible students chose the bilingual option.
  • Bilingual programs have produced superior results in English reading at every grade level over the past 3 years, according to the Arizona Department of Education.
Arizonans recognize that expanding choices is good for our schools. So why deny this right to Hispanic and Native American parents? Let’s trust them to do what’s best for their kids.