Ballot Argument Against Prop. 203

Senator Joe Eddie Lopez (D-Phoenix)

In Arizona, limited English proficient students attend special programs to help them learn English. Current Ari zona law includes a number of programs for parents to choose from, including variations of bilingual education AND English immersion. This initiative eliminates choice and mandates a one-size-fits-all approach.

Misleading voters, proponents claim that “waivers” are available. However, since the initiative replaces existi ng statutes, there will be no other programs for parents to choose from even if they get a waiver. Thus, a parent who wants their child in bilingual education will have to wait for the legisl ature to pass, by a ¾ vote, a law that reinstates existing program options. Even if this happens, the remaining waiver provisions are severe. For example, most parents wanting to choose bilingual education will be forced to sign a statement declaring their child has “psychological needs.” How many of us would make such a statement , which becomes a permanent school record, about our children? Parents should not have to face such obstacles to place their children in the program of their choice.

Many parents choose bili ngual education, which uses BOTH English and students’ native languages for instruction. Educational experts agree this is the most effective way to help students learn English and promote high academic achievement. The superior effectiveness of bili ngual educati on over English immersion is corroborated by data from our own Department of Educat ion.

Californians passed this initiative and the results are bleak. After the first year of English immersion in Orange County, only 6 of 3,500 non-English-speakers learned English well enough to attend regular classes. That is over a 99% f ailure rate for English immersion! Statewide, results are similar.

Vote “no” on this failed California experiment and let Arizona parents and schools decide the best way to teach our children.