Ballot Argument Against Prop. 203
Arizona Language Education Council
Fundamentally this election is about two principles that an English-only
law would jeopardize:
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:
parents’ right to choose the education they want for their children, and
local school boards’ right to decide what kinds of instruction are appropriate.
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:
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.
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.
Only 30 percent of Arizona’s limited-English students are now enrolled
in bilingual classrooms; 70 percent already receive all their instruction
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