English-Only Education Fair And Forward

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Imagine for a moment that you decide to pack up your children and move to France to live for the rest of your lives. Would you expect the French government to provide bilingual programs for all 12 years of your children's education? Or would you instead decide that you and your children should learn the native language of your new homeland?

It seems the real question behind Prop. 203 is whether it is fair to expect non-English speaking students to learn the language of the country in which they live?

Prop. 203 would do away with bilingual education in Arizona and require immigrant children still learning English to participate in a one-year English immersion program.

Currently, Arizona school districts are spending valuable resources in an effort to provide bilingual education for all students for whom English is not their first language.

According to Payson Unified School District Superintendent Herb Weissenfels, the English as Second Language programs in Payson are insufficient and it's time for a change.

"Bilingual education has become a crutch for people not to function in what is really our native language English," Weissenfels said. We agree.

Two years ago, Californians adopted a similar proposition which opponents prophesied would lower test scores of the nearly one million Spanish speaking children in the state. These students were required to immerse themselves in the English language. According to a recent report, their reading scores increased by 9 percentage points and their math scores by 14 percent. While there is some debate as to whether the English-only philosophy can be credited for these improved scores, it is clear that the scores did not drop as predicted.

It is reasonable to expect immigrant children to learn English if they make the United States their home. And by voting in favor of Prop. 203, we also eliminate the crutch used by too many non-English speaking students and allow them to walk confidently down America's roads to success.

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