News & Editorials


Initiative Text

Prop. 203 vs. Prop. 227

Prop. 227 in California


Arizona Language Education Council (ALEC)

English Plus More (No on 203)

Arizona Association for Bilingual Education (AABE)

La Vida

"English for the Children - Arizona" (Ron Unz)

Proposition 203:
Anti-Bilingual Initiative in Arizona

Arizona Attorney General Interprets Initiative

Voters Approve English Only Measure, 63% to 37%
Election Results by County

Final Campaign Finance Reports

Arizona Secretary of State Voter Information Pamphlet on Prop. 203

Arizona has become the latest battleground in a California millionaire's crusade to "eliminate bilingual education in the United States."

Proposition 203, an initiative statute, prohibits native-language instruction for most limited-English-proficient children in public schools. Using the electoral process to micromanage the schools, the new law imposes a statewide English-only mandate, overruling the

  • choices of Hispanic and Native American parents, 
  • judgment and experience of professional educators, 
  • decisions of local school boards, and 
  • sovereignty of Indian nations trying to save their languages from extinction.
The campaign was funded almost entirely by Ron Unz, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and would-be politician, who sponsored (and bankrolled) a similar measure in California. According to disclosure statements filed with the Arizona Secretary of State, Unz provided $186,886 of the $229,786 (81%) of the money spent to get Prop. 203 on the ballot and sell it to the voters. 
Campaign Finance Reports by Groups for and against Proposition 203
English for the Children - Arizona

Arizona Citizens Opposed to Prop. 203
English Plus More
No on 203 - 2000

The initiative is modeled on Proposition 227, passed by California voters in 1998. But the Arizona version is far more restrictive – especially in its limits on "waivers" of the English-only rule. These provisions, designed to provide the illusion of parental choice, could mean the elimination of parental choice for all practical purposes. Nevertheless, many questions about implementation remain to be decided by state and local officials.
Arizona's attorney general, Janet Napolitano, has issued two official – but nonbinding – opinions on these matters:

I01-003 – School districts' deadline for implementing Prop. 203 is the start of the 2001-2002 school year.
I01-006 – Prop. 203 cannot prohibit Arizona public schools from teaching Native American languages and cultures.

A similar measure in Colorado, sponsored by Unz's ally Linda Chavez, was removed from the ballot by the Colorado Supreme Court on July 10, 2000. Among other things, the initiative was ruled to be deceptive and misleading on the issue of parental choice.


James Crawford
English Only vs. English Only – Arizona's Prop. 203 is far more restrictive than California's Prop. 227 in head-to-head comparison

Stephen Krashen, Grace K. Park, and Dan Seldin
Bilingual Education in Arizona: What the Research Says – A review of the most rigorous scientific studies shows that bilingual programs have proven effective in Arizona.

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)
Arizona Unz Initiative: Questions and Answers
Section-by-Section Analysis of Arizona Unz Initiative

Ballot arguments against Prop. 203
Arizona Language Education Council 
English Plus More
Arizona English Teachers Association
Arizona Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages
Sen. Joe Eddie Lopez
Mexican American Political Association
Navajo Nation, Office of the President/Vice President

Statements of Opposition
Navajo Nation Council – Resolution "strongly opposing" English-only initiative, adopted unanimously, 20 July 1999.

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Last updated on 8 April 2001

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