Journalists’ Roundtable: Attorney General and State Superintendent battle

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It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for another edition of the Journalists’ Roundtable. Joining us for a look at the week’s top stories: Mary Jo Pitzl of The Arizona Republic and azcentral; Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services; and Jeremy Duda of Axios Phoenix.

Top stories this week included: Attorney General Kris Mayes vs. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne on dual language education.

Pitzl: “What we have now is that Superintendent of Schools Tom Horne sent out instructions saying to school districts, ‘If you’re teaching immersion only,’ we’re going to withhold funding from you. You can’t do that. You have to do dual language where a child spends part of their time in the classroom in English and part of the time learning their native language.”

Fischer: “But the larger issue kinda comes down to the fact that we are the only state that says we’re going to take out these kids; they do not get to keep up with their academics, with their peers. And the other half of it becomes, to the extent that you have students enrolled in both languages, in both classes, not only are the Spanish-speaking kids learning English, the English-speaking kids are learning Spanish, which is not necessarily a bad thing.”

Duda: Legislative council thought he (Horne) had a point and pointed out that a few years ago this couldn’t have gotten passed, that there could be some legal issues… Voters passed this, I believe, in 2000 that students have to be instructed primarily in English, only you can’t do the type of dual immersion stuff. What Tom Horne is objecting to, this has been on the books for a few years now. This was passed, I believe, in 2019 by the legislature unanimously, if I’m not mistaken, that gives the Board of Education a lot more latitude than they’d had for nearly 20 years before, that to give some more instruction to students that don’t speak English in their native language. And one of those four options was for the 50/50 dual immersion, and no one had any legal issues or raised anything like that since then.

Mary Jo Pitzl, The Arizona Republic and azcentral; Howie Fischer, Capitol Media Times; Jeremy Duda, Axios Phoenix

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