English immersion study shows a clear superiority
Arizona Republic, May 10, 2003
Tom Horne

Ginny Kalish's attack on Johanna Haver and myself requires a response
("Not all kids learn the same," Letter, May 2).

The most recent and comprehensive study of English immersion vs. bilingual education is in the winter 2002 edition of Education Next, a magazine published by Harvard, Stanford and two research institutions (www.educationnext.org). It found that English immersion students outperformed bilingual education in that (1) they had more years of schooling; (2) more of them entered college; (3) they had a higher average income; and (4) they exceeded the bilingual students in entry into high-status occupations by almost 2 to 1.

I have been in a number of English immersion schools where at least 85 percent of the students become orally proficient in English in one year, and fully proficient in reading and writing within three years. Leonard Basurto, director of Arizona's largest bilingual program, testified at the Legislature that in a bilingual program, it takes seven years for a student to become proficient in English. A student who came to the United States at age 12 would graduate from high school without ever becoming proficient. That any one would try to perpetuate a program that takes seven years to bring students to English proficiency is scandalous.

Contrary to Ms. Kalish's letter, I have issued no "new interpretations" of the waiver process. An e-mail dated Sept. 19, 2002, documents that the professionals in the department under my predecessor concluded that students scoring "limited" knowledge of English on the relevant test did not qualify for the waiver, which requires a "good working knowledge of English."

All I did was issue guidelines, required by legislation (the requirement ignored by my predecessors for three years), that indicated
that we would monitor and enforce a conclusion that was required by the language of the law, and that was set forth in writing by the professionals in the department under my predecessor.

Tom Horne
The writer is Arizona's superintendent of public instruction.