Original URL: http://www.arizonarepublic.com/arizona/articles/0214bilingual14.html

Horne toughens bilingual ed rules
Standards to start next school year

By Pat Kossan
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 14, 2003

Arizona's new schools chief, Tom Horne, is toughening the rules for how schools can teach students who are just learning English.

The new directives will shut down some language courses, make it harder for students to remain in bilingual classes and tighten state monitoring. The standards will begin next school year.

"My success and legacy will depend on teaching students who are not native English speakers and how well they learn," Horne said Thursday. "Their numbers are large and growing."

Horne's rules will hurt, not help, a dual-language pilot project at Glendale Elementary School District, Assistant Superintendent Karen Budan said.

"This will shut the door," Budan said. Instead, the 27 percent of English learners in her district will be mainstreamed into regular classrooms.

The district will continue to train all of its teachers in special English-immersion techniques to help those students survive.

Voters passed Proposition 203 two years ago, outlawing classes taught primarily in Spanish and that used Spanish-language textbooks. The law called for immersing English learners in classes taught only in English and using English-language books.

But the law has what Horne calls loopholes. It allows students who speak English fluently to participate in classes taught in both Spanish and English. Horne said schools are abusing that privilege, accepting students who barely speak English. His new rules won't allow that.

The law also allows some students to opt out of English-immersion classes with permission from parents or school administrators, but Horne said schools take advantage by encouraging flocks of students to remain in bilingual classes instead. Horne will require schools to document why individual students shouldn't attend English-immersion classes.