Horne wants Legislature to fund international schools
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 25, 2007

Pat Kossan

Arizona schools chief Tom Horne on Wednesday asked lawmakers for funds to establish three K-12 international schools.

He also called for a pilot program giving students laptop computers, personal learning plans for students and final exams provided by the state. Total cost of the four measures would be $13.1 million.

The international schools, costing $900,000, would begin language courses in kindergarten. By the time kids graduate, they would be well-traveled, knowledgeable about world cultures and fluent in two languages in addition to English. Horne wants an additional $1 million to establish 10 new international study programs in existing high schools. The proposals were part of Horne's fourth State of Education speech. He usually delivers the speech at a school, but chose to speak to legislators this year because his
2007 agenda costs money. Universities and colleges would partner with the state to help establish the international schools. Horne told members of the House and Senate education committees that similar schools in other states produced students with higher test scores whose graduates were ready to compete in international business.

Horne asked the lawmakers to partner with him on other proposals:

A pilot program that would give students laptop computers instead of textbooks in seven Arizona high schools, replicating a successful program at Tucson-area Empire High School. It would begin with a three-day "digital boot camp" for teachers conducted by Empire High School staff. The districts and the state would split the $5 million cost.

An online Personalized Learning Plan for every student from seventh through 12th grades, updated annually by parents and teachers. Horne said the plans would get parents involved and students motivated by helping them understand what they're learning and why. The goal for a full Web-based rollout would be 2013 and the cost would be $400,000 a year for three years.

Require students to take new statewide end-of-course tests for science, history and arts courses, including art and music. These would be in place by 2009 and cost $7.5 million.