Menu Close

Tom Horne’s earnest English-only crusade just became comical

Tom Horne's earnest English-only crusade just became comical
State Superintendent Tom Horne, that fierce supporter of parental choice, has rallied the community (such as it is) to fight back against schools seeking to help children who don’t speak English.

Having lost his own lawsuit to outlaw dual language instruction, Horne is now following through with a promise to unleash parents who believe those schools are shortchanging their children.

Problem is, he apparently couldn’t find any.

That’s because this isn’t about shortchanging kids or empowering their parents to choose the education they think is best for their children.

It’s about Horne’s ego and his insistence that Arizona should teach these children only in a language they don’t understand.

State board allows dual language lessons

Horne contends schools that are teaching the children of immigrants in both English and their native language are violating a 24-year-old voter-approved law that mandates instruction be only in English.

That law, Proposition 203, envisioned an “intensive one-year English immersion program.”

But one year became multiple years as students didn’t become quickly proficient enough in English to move into regular classes. Meanwhile, they fell behind in every academic subject.

Finally, in 2019, the Legislature unanimously passed and then-Gov. Doug Ducey signed a law directing the state Board of Education to adopt alternative English instruction models within the framework of Proposition 203 — programs “that are based on evidence and research.”

The board adopted four new models for the state’s 93,000 English language learners. One of them is the dual language approach that allows children to be taught in both English and a second language, usually Spanish.

The program has become popular, with more than 100 schools in two dozen school districts now offering that alternative to parents.

Horne wants kids taught in English only

And Horne is grinding his molars to nubs at the very thought of it.

First, he threatened to defund any school district that offered dual language instruction, but Attorney General Kris Mayes pointed out that he doesn’t have the authority to defund anything.

Then he sued to kill dual language instruction, but a judge threw out his lawsuit, pointing out that Horne doesn’t have the standing to sue.

So Horne vowed both to appeal (with our money, of course) and to recruit a parent to refile his lawsuit.

“That day has come,” he announced on Tuesday.

The promised lawsuit asks that the Creighton Elementary School District be ordered to teach non-English speakers only in English and that the entire school board be fired.

Where is the outrage from Creighton?

So who, you might wonder, is so outraged that a Phoenix school district is trying to help its Phoenix students succeed academically?

Well, the lawsuit was filed by a Scottsdale parent whose son attends a Scottsdale school.

And the parent’s attorney? Horne’s wife, Carmen Chenal Horne.

Horne’s dual language crusade: Is all about ego

Clearly, the groundswell of parental outrage in Creighton is … non-existent.

Arizona is the only state with an English-only law still on the books, as every other state that went down that road long ago came to realize it didn’t work.

As Arizona’s own Republican-run Legislature and Republican governor came to realize it didn’t work.

Horne thinks he’s right, everyone is wrong

Just 55% of Arizona’s English Learner (EL) students graduated from high school in four years in 2019-20, according to the U.S. Department of Education. That’s more than 20 percentage points below the state’s overall graduation rate.

Only three states posted more dismal numbers. The median graduation rate for EL students nationwide was 69%.

Yet here comes Horne, demanding that we teach these kids only in a language they don’t understand.

Insisting that he is right and everybody else — the Legislature, the governor, the State Board of Education, the schools that offer dual language instruction and the parents who want dual language instruction for their children — are wrong.

“The evidence is clear that the Creighton District is violating the will of the voters,” Horne said.

The evidence is clear, all right.

Horne’s ego has caused him to lose sight of his job.

Reach Roberts at Follow her on X, formerly Twitter, at @LaurieRoberts or on Threads at laurierobertsaz.

Support local journalism: Subscribe to today.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona schools chief Tom Horne is on a lonely English-only crusade

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *