Rep. John Fillmore is again proposing to repeal a 19-year-old voter-approved law that forbids students who are learning English from getting instruction in any other language.
Fillmore, an Apache Junction Republican, introduced a proposal Tuesday to repeal the state’s English-only law. His proposal last year won bipartisan support in the Arizona House of Representatives but failed in the Senate.
The measure was approved on a 59-1 vote in the House of Representatives and was unanimously approved by the Senate Education Committee, but it stalled for over a month in the Senate. The proposal then picked up steam as the session wound to a close, but sine die arrived before it received a formal vote by the entire Senate.
Fillmore’s House Concurrent Resolution 2001 seeks to repeal Arizona’s English-only model, officially known as Structured English Immersion. The framework for the state’s SEI model was mainly established by Proposition 203 in 2000. As a result of this law, all English learners – children who have a home language other than English – can’t be taught in their home language and are placed in English-only classrooms.
Fillmore’s measure last year also had the support of the Arizona Department of Education and education groups like the Arizona Education Association. A poll also showed voters would favor repealing the English-only law.
If Fillmore’s proposal advances in 2020, the repeal would go before voters in the November general election.
Hoffman: It’s time to repeal English-only
Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman recently wrote about her support for a repeal of the state’s English-only rules.
Hoffman, who since kindergarten received instruction in English and Japanese, said Arizona is the only state in the country with “a rigid law that segregates and disadvantages” English learner students.
She added that said these 83,000 students are falling behind because “we’re not teaching them the right way.”
Not only is it ineffective, it’s offensive, Hoffman said.
“By prioritizing English alone, we devalue and disrespect the native languages of thousands of Arizona students when, really, we should be taking the opportunity to preserve and revitalize these languages for generations to come,” she wrote. “Let’s give our students who are learning English the chance at success they deserve. Let’s use data and research to guide our policies. And let’s value and celebrate the diversity of language and culture in our great state.”