A recent attempt by Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne to bar English learners from dual language programs has been blocked by Attorney General Kris Mayes.
Mayes said in a legal opinion that Horne does not have the authority to withhold funding from schools that offer dual language programs approved by the State Board of Education.
“The Superintendent’s and the Department’s role in implementing the ELL (English language learners) Statutes is limited to monitoring and referring school districts and charter schools to the Board for a finding of noncompliance,” Mayes wrote. “The ELL Statutes do not authorize the Superintendent or the Department to withhold ELL funding.”
After Mayes released her opinion, the State Board of Education confirmed that they wouldn’t take any action against schools that offer dual language programs, as first reported by the Arizona Mirror. The Board also clarified that their models for these programs would not be modified or eliminated.
This means that English learners can still enroll in dual language programs, which provide academic instruction in two languages. Students in dual language programs spend half the day in a classroom taught in English and the other half in a classroom taught in another language, most commonly Spanish.
Proponents of dual language programs say that they have many benefits, including helping students become bilingual and bi-literate, which can give them a competitive advantage in the job market later in life.
Dual language programs are growing in popularity in Arizona, and there are now about 93,000 students in the state who are classified as English learners.