Superintendent Horne shakes up English Learner instruction. It's also the 170th Day of the Legislative Session, but we don't talk about that anymore.
State Board of Education Highlights
The Arizona State Board of Education (SBE) met on Monday for its last regular meeting of the fiscal year. As is sometimes the case, the most contentious topic of the day was not on the agenda at all (more on that below), but the board did take up several topics of interest:
The board appointed a financial receiver for Antelope Union High School District in Yuma County due to a pattern of overexpenditures lasting a number of years. The board has this authority under statute but it is rarely employed before a district is in imminent danger of becoming insolvent. Board members expressed that they hope to avoid that scenario by intervening now and that the receivership will be brief. The association is always highly sensitive to the removal of local control, but the board and the department of education followed the procedure outlined in statute and we will continue to press for the expeditious resolution of these issues and the return of the district to financial self-governance.
The board received an update on the Move on When Reading (MOWR) rulemaking process mentioned in our last update. No action was taken, but the board is moving toward finalizing these rules, perhaps as soon as its next meeting in August. We encourage all practitioners to review the proposed draft and provide feedback if desired to SBE at firstname.lastname@example.org.
the board is launching a Student of the Month Initiative that will highlight student suceess in Arizona’s school system. The board will open a nomination period from July 17 throough September 15, 2023 during which one nomination may be received per school. Students will be selected from among the nominees to be celebrated at each regular board meeting. We will provide additional specifics when the nomination application is announced.
ADE Says 50-50 English Learner Model is no Good
Last week, the Arizona Department of Education informed schools it has concluded that the 50-50 English Learner model approved by the State Board of Education violates Proposition 203, Arizona’s English-only Education law. The department based its conclusion on a memo prepared by Arizona’s Legislative Council, which offers legal opinions to Legislators, but they do not have the same legal weight as a formal opinion of the Attorney General. According to a letter schools received from the department’s Office of English Language Acquisition Services (OELAS), “the 50-50 Dual Language Immersion Model is hereby eliminated as a model of Structured English Immersion.” This letter was also accompanied by a message from Superintendent Horne. The department does not have the power to unilaterally eliminate models adopted by the state board, but it does have the broad power enforce the English Learner statutes and to withold EL funding. In this case, the department has concluded that in order to use a 50-50 model, students must meet the requirements for a waiver from the English-only education requirements of Proposition 203, which are fairly strict. Normally, students do not require a waiver to participate in a model of instruction approved by the state board.
During the call to the public at yesterday’s State Board of Education meeting, board members heard from a number of educators and parents who support the 50-50 model and oppose the department’s decision. The department’s action could set up a potential showdown between a district or charter that believes in the 50-50 model and the department.
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