Data shows English-only instruction hurts English learners. But Tom Horne is doubling down

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Tuesday, July 11, 2023 - 11:16am

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Tom Horne
Bridget Dowd/KJZZ
Tom Horne in 2022

In 2000, Arizona voters passed Prop 203: A ballot initiative intended to ban bilingual education. It happened at a time when tensions over immigration were high and Arizona was seeing an influx of Latino immigrants into the state. 

But, since, the data has shown it to largely be a failure. Kids who didn’t speak English fell behind on other subjects and didn’t learn English as quickly as anticipated. 

It all happened under the watch of then Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, who is, of course, once again in that office. Now he’s pushing back against some of the dual language programs that schools have created in recent years as lawmakers have loosened the rules around Prop 203. And he’s threatening to pull funding from schools that are violating it.

Arizona Republic reporter Daniel Gonzalez has been covering this story since Prop 203 was passed more than two decades ago. The Show spoke with him about it.

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