Horne advancing English learning - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Horne advancing English learning

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Posted: Friday, March 20, 2009 7:21 pm | Updated: 12:47 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Johanna Haver: Arizona Democratic and Republican lawmakers remind me of parents who disagree on how to raise their children. The Democrats tend to take a soft, sometimes permissive approach while the Republicans insist on strict adherence to rules and discipline.

Arizona Democratic and Republican lawmakers remind me of parents who disagree on how to raise their children. The Democrats tend to take a soft, sometimes permissive approach while the Republicans insist on strict adherence to rules and discipline.

Presently we are in a crisis mostly because our former governor, a Democrat, allowed the state to sink way into debt by indulging her constituents and not preserving the rainy day fund. Lucky for her, the opportunity to join President Barck Obama’s team rescued her from having to deal with this state’s severe monetary problems. Now the “law and order” Republicans must take draconian steps to keep the state from sinking into the quicksand of bankruptcy.

Interestingly, in the midst of all this, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, a Republican, has proven to be strong on standards for children yet compassionate in that he wants the best education possible for all children. His department has implemented a 4-hour per day, intense immersion model for English language learners that is already proving superior to the ELL programs of the other states.

At the same time, by working hard with the school districts, he has been able to reduce the cost of this program from $40 million to $8.8 million. In other words, the ELLs are receiving the best possible education at the lowest feasible price.

Nevertheless, state Attorney General Terry Goddard, a Democrat who leans toward a “throw-money-at-the-problem” solution, has done what he can to disrupt Horne’s success by refusing to oppose the lawsuit brought against the state by the ultra-liberal Tim Hogan of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest. According to Hogan, the state is still not in compliance with a federal court order requiring the state to adequately fund ELL education.

A year ago, Goddard supported Hogan, and not the taxpayers, when the state went before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to deal with this issue. Consequently, the court ordered Arizona to pour more money into ELL education and to pay fines that would amount to $2 million per day.

Fortunately, due to the diligence of Horne, the case was appealed and will come before the U.S. Supreme Court next month in spite of the efforts of Goddard to force the 9th Circuit’s ruling to stand. It doesn’t matter to Goddard that the new model is proving highly successful in every school district where it has been fully implemented, nor that the state is on the brink of bankruptcy.

The strict yet caring parent, the Republican Tom Horne, deserves our gratitude and support on this very important issue.

Johanna Haver of Phoenix is a retired teacher and member of the Arizona English Language Learner Task Force. She can be reached at j.haver@cox.net.

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