Ballot Argument Against Prop. 203

English Plus More Committee

An English Only initiative ... pushed by big money from out of state ... dividing Arizona along ethnic lines ... disrupting public institutions ... clogging the court system. ... limiting the rights of minority citizens.

Sound familiar? Arizonans have already been there, done that. 

From 1988 to 1998, we had to cope with Proposition 106, a sweeping mandate for English Only government. Finally it was declared unconstitutional by the Arizona Supreme Court, as a violation of the right to free speech.

Another English Only law is the last thing we need, especially one that:

  • plays politics with schools and schoolchildren;
  • robs parents and elected officials of any say in how English learners will be taught;
  • limits these kids to – at most – 180 days of English instruction;
  • excludes them from any kind of bilingual program – including programs designed to save American Indian languages from extinction; and
  • prohibits popular language teaching methods such as “dual immersion,” in which English-speaking students learn Spanish while Spanish-speaking students learn English.
These are just a few extreme provisions of the so-called “English for the Children” initiative. It is on the ballot – not because Arizonans asked for it – but because a California millionaire spent $105,000 to put it there. 

Arizona, home to a rich variety of languages and cultures, should be the last state to join his crusade against bilingual education. Sen. John McCain, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, and Vice President Al Gore have all condemned this campaign as divisive.

Instead we should join them in embracing the concept of English Plus: All Americans need excellent English skills. No question. That’s the chief goal of bilingual education. But we also need the Plus these programs can provide – Spanish, Navajo, Korean, Chinese, Tohono O’odham, and others – to promote trade and safeguard our heritage. 

English Only is self-defeating!