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JNCL-NCLIS Supports AZLA Efforts to Protect Dual Language Immersion Programs in Arizona




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


WASHINGTON, D.C., July 25th, 2023 - Last month, the Joint National Committee for Languages and National Council for Languages and International Studies (JNCL-NCLIS) and the Arizona Language Association (AZLA) fought back against and successfully stymied Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne’s effort to shut down 50-50 Dual Language Immersion programs in public schools across the state. Specifically, Superintendent Horne threatened to withhold state funding from school districts that employ the 50-50 Dual Immersion model, where classes are taught in English for half the day and another language for the remainder of the day, claiming that they ran afoul of Arizona Proposition 203’s mandate that English Learners be taught in English.


AZLA, a member organization of JNCL-NCLIS, reached out and submitted a request for support. JNCL-NCLIS distributed an action alert to collect public comments and gather letters in opposition to Superintendent Horne’s policy decision, engaging hundreds of Arizona language advocates. JNCL-NCLIS Executive Director Amanda Seewald also led a letter on behalf of the Board of Directors to the Arizona State Board of Education objecting to Superintendent Horne’s action and urging the reinstatement of Dual Language Immersion programs.


“Learning academic content through more than one language benefits all students. JNCL-NCLIS recognizes research that demonstrates Dual Language Immersion to be the most effective model for meeting the unique needs of English Learners, supporting literacy growth and academic development in both first and second languages, and improving educational outcomes This longitudinally focused learning model creates pathways to global career readiness,” wrote Seewald.


Last week, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes overruled the Superintendent’s decision, stating in a legal opinion that only the Arizona State School Board possesses the “sole authority to eliminate or modify an approved model…(and) to determine whether a school district or charter school has failed to comply with Arizona law governing English Language learners.”


Maria Cristina Ladas, Immediate Past President of AZLA, celebrated the successful advocacy and the Attorney General’s opinion, saying: “Dual Language Immersion is a popular educational model, open to all students and is a win-win solution on so many fronts. It not only results in the fastest reclassification rates for English Learners [to learn English], but also frames their heritage language as an asset to use once they are out in the global economy. The native English speakers enrolled alongside also get to claim proficiency in two languages as a result of this accelerated program model. Not surprisingly, students learning academics through two languages show higher academic achievement outcomes when compared to their non-dual language immersion peers. The benefits of this model continue with students showing more cognitive flexibility, higher levels of executive function, and are better able to manage relationships with diverse populations–all things that will make students college and career ready.”


While this is a significant victory for language education advocates, the fight is not over. Superintendent Horne responded to the Attorney General’s decision by urging parents to file suit against school districts that fail to abide by Prop 203 and stating that the courts will be the ultimate arbiter.


_______________________________ About JNCL-NCLIS: Established in 1972, the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL) and the National Council for Languages and International Studies (NCLIS) unites a national network of leading organizations and businesses comprised of over 300,000 language professionals to advocate for equitable language learning opportunities. Our mission is to ensure that Americans have the opportunity to learn English and at least one other language. Contact: info@languagepolicy.org

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