Arizona Department Of Education Accuses Schools Of Not Teaching English To Migrant Students

Arizona Department Of Education Accuses Schools Of Not Teaching English To Migrant Students

By Corinne Murdock |

The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) warned schools that not teaching the English language to migrant students violates state law.

In a press release issued Monday, ADE Superintendent Tom Horne further warned that schools neglecting to teach the English language to migrant students, classified as English Language Learners (ELLs), were at risk of losing funding. A 50-50 dual language immersion model used in some schools, commonly referred to as “dual language” classes, prompted the ADE declaration.

The Arizona Legislative Council (ALC) clarified in a memo to State Sen. Sonny Borrelli (R-LD-30) that ELL students must learn class subjects in the English language. 

 “If the 50-50 dual language immersion model allows students to be taught subject matter in a language other than English as part of structured English immersion, the model likely violates Proposition 203,” wrote the ALC.

If not, schools stand to lose ELL funds. Any elected school officials or administrators responsible for the violation are also liable to a lawsuit, and could face removal from office and a bar from running again for five years. 

State law established by the voter-led Proposition 203, passed in 2000, requires ELL students to be taught English, be placed in English language classrooms, and be educated through a sheltered English immersion environment for at most a year. State law clarifies that no subject matter may be taught in any language other than English within the immersion environment. 

The 50-50 dual language immersion model, however, teaches students in languages other than English half the time during the immersion period. As ALC noted, this structure wouldn’t satisfy the statutory requirement for structured English immersion. 

“That definition prohibits any subject matter from being taught ‘in any language other than English,’ and the model clearly allows for some subject matter to be taught in a language other than English,” stated the ALC.

Horne said that during his first stint as superintendent 20 years ago, English proficiency increased from four percent to 29 percent within one year. According to Horne, Prop 203 wasn’t enforced throughout the first few years of its existence. 

“When I started my first term as state Superintendent of Schools in 2003, the initiative was unenforced, and bilingual education was a method of teaching in Arizona schools. As a result, a pathetic 4% of students became proficient in English in one year. At that rate, almost none would ever become proficient, and they would fail in the economy,” stated Horne. “We implemented structured English immersion, combined with intensive classes, on how to teach English immersion. The rate of proficiency in English within one year went up to 29%. At that rate within three or four years, almost everyone would become proficient in English.”

Horne claimed that “ideologically motivated” professors favoring bilingual education stood opposed to real-world data, and resisted his attempt to impose Prop 203 initially.

“When we taught these classes, a number of teachers arrived hostile, because of ideology,” said Horne. “But by the end, our structured English immersion teachers were getting standing ovations and very high evaluations.”

Horne clarified that this restriction on dual language only applies to students prior to their attaining proficiency in English. After that, students may engage in dual language programs.

“The data shows that structured English immersion is the best way to achieve this, and the law requires it,” said Horne.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Arizona Department Of Education Poll Reflects Support For K-12 Campus Police

Arizona Department Of Education Poll Reflects Support For K-12 Campus Police

By Corinne Murdock |

The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) released polling results last week reflecting around 80 percent support for police presence on K-12 campuses.

ADE contracted OH Predictive Insights to conduct the poll on public support for school resource officers. In a press release, ADE Superintendent Tom Horne stated that officers serve as an integral part of a healthy K-12 environment, providing safety while teaching classes and bonding with the students.

“They not only provide safety, but teach classes, and become friendly with students, so that students learn to trust them, rather than viewing police as enemies,” said Horne. “The worst tragedy one can imagine would be if a maniac invaded a school and killed 20 children, as has happened in other states, and that school passed up the opportunity to have a resource officer present to protect the students and staff.” 

According to the poll results, 78 percent of respondents considered school safety very important and 81 percent supported police presence on campus. 

The poll data came out just before the Phoenix Union High School District (PXU) voted to delay bringing back campus police. The vote came days after a high schooler at Betty Fairfax High School was arrested for carrying a gun onto campus.

Also in the press release, Horne urged PXU to hire school resource officers. It doesn’t appear that PXU plans to heed his call. 

A poll completed last year with the PXU community reflected majority support for police presence on campuses. According to that poll, 80 percent supported officers on campus, and 82 percent testified to witnessing positive interactions between school resource officers and students. 

PXU removed officers in 2021, following activist efforts associated with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests and riots prompted by the death of George Floyd. 

Last Saturday was the deadline for ADE’s school safety grant applications. However, ADE noted in its press release that it would grant exceptions for late applications through this Saturday, April 22.

Horne warned back in February that schools without law enforcement presence wouldn’t be recommended to the State Board of Education for school safety funding.

“Every school should have a law enforcement officer to protect students and staff, and this should be accomplished on an urgent basis,” said Horne. “Delay in implementing this goal could leave schools more vulnerable to a tragic catastrophe. Schools that currently have no armed presence yet submit grants applications that do not request an officer will not receive a recommendation from this Department to the State Board of Education.”

Along with the poll, ADE issued a letter to every mayor throughout the state asking for support in establishing law enforcement presence on every campus. ADE is also awaiting data from local police departments on the impact of school resource officers.

In order to handle this initiative, ADE appointed a director of school safety: Michael Kurtenbach. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Superintendent Horne Declares War Against ‘Mediocrity’ Of Modern Education

Superintendent Horne Declares War Against ‘Mediocrity’ Of Modern Education

By Corinne Murdock |

Arizona Department of Education (ADE) Superintendent Tom Horne said that his administration is warring against the mediocrity of the progressive norms defining modern classrooms. These norms include social-emotional learning (SEL) and the replacement of school resource officers (SROs) with social workers.

“There is a war in education between the crusaders for mediocrity and those who want academic vigor,” said Horne. “I am on the side that supports academic rigor, and I hope that the members of the TUSD Board will be too.”

Horne blamed SEL for the years-long decline of test scores. Horne also claimed that some teachers reported having to dedicate up to 40 minutes of class time to SEL, often described to him as entertainment-level activities like “dumb games.” He called teachers who reject SEL prioritization his heroes. 

“Our philosophy is that every instructional minute is precious,” said Horne.

Last fall, several reports were issued detailing the steady decline of student outcomes. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) revealed in a report that students suffered severe learning losses in math and nominal losses in reading due to the COVID-19 shutdowns. ADE announced that a majority of Arizona students were still failing the statewide assessment.

According to the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings, Arizona is ranked 46th in education. This year’s rankings from Scholaroo rated Arizona as last of all 50 states in education when factoring student success, school quality, and school safety. 

Horne also cited a study to debunk the claim that SROs don’t mitigate school shootings. 

“[I]f a maniac were to invade a school, kill children, and the school chose a social worker as opposed to an armed officer, how do you think the parents of those murdered children would feel about that?” asked Horne.

Horne issued the remarks in a response letter to the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) school board’s criticism of him as “misguided” and claiming his policies cause active harm to students. He said TUSD showed a “frightening hostility” toward orderly classrooms.

Horne has had a lengthy career in education and politics: he served as a school board member for 24 years, the state’s previous attorney general for four years, and as ADE’s superintendent for eight years. 

In their criticism issued earlier this month, TUSD Governing Board members Jennifer Eckstrom and Ravi Shah condemned Horne’s redirection of School Safety Grant Program funds to hire more SROs and the superintendent’s purge of SEL from education.

Eckstrom and Shah claimed that SROs didn’t reduce school shootings, but instead disproportionately disciplined minority students while over-disciplining students in general. 

“The best way to keep our children safe and to help those who need it most requires us to roll up our sleeves and tackle the problem the hard way: investing in our kids and schools through more counselors, social workers, and other supportive adults; investing the time, energy, and money necessary to engage families as partners in their children’s learning; and developing policies and practices that engage students and correct behaviors before they escalate,” wrote the pair.

Yet, in the most recent school shooting on Monday in Nashville, Tennessee at a private Christian school, local police revealed the shooter — 28-year-old Audrey Hale — had initially intended to target another, unnamed school, but decided against it because it had stronger security. Police also revealed that Hale, believed to identify as a transgender man named Aiden, had a manifesto and may have targeted the school over its Biblical beliefs. Hale, an alumna of the K-6 school, killed three students and three faculty members. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Paradise Valley School Board Member: White Christians Don’t Get a Say in Curriculum

Paradise Valley School Board Member: White Christians Don’t Get a Say in Curriculum

By Corinne Murdock |

The Paradise Valley School (PVUSD) Governing Board President Pro Tem indicated that white Christians shouldn’t determine curriculum. 

Newly elected PVUSD member Kerry Baker issued the remark over the weekend in response to Arizona Department of Education (ADE) Superintendent Tom Horne’s recent actions to purge social-emotional learning (SEL), critical race theory (CRT), and other progressive ideologies from classrooms. Baker claimed that CRT isn’t present in schools but that what Horne sought to eradicate was true history; she pinned blame on white Christians for the purportedly misdirected purge.

“We are not a society of white Christians,” tweeted Baker. “It is dangerous to assume we are. It is even more dangerous to believe public schools are only made up of white Christians. Our communities are full of rich and diverse cultures and families. We should ALL be celebrated. Not just a certain population.”

Baker added the claim that Horne’s opposition to CRT made him a “racist.”

“When [Tom Horne] says he’s anti-CRT, he’s just reminding us he’s racist,” stated Baker.

Baker, a former Peoria Unified School District and Dysart Unified School District teacher endorsed by teacher union lobbyist group Save Our Schools Arizona (SOSAZ), stands in opposition to major policy changes defining the Horne administration. Baker ran on a campaign opposing universal school choice, supporting SEL, and resisting public posting of teaching materials.

Baker is a product of the Leading For Change (LFC) fellowship program: a Democrat-run group that trains up Democratic elected officials and activists, founded by a board member of dark money group Arizona Advocacy Network (AAN), who’s also the former executive for Center for Progressive Leadership and Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona. 

Baker explained in her LFC biography that she decided to run for PVUSD governing board because two of her six children had identities that aligned with her activist interests. According to Baker, she has helped one of her children transition genders, and another one of her children has autism. 

In an interview with The Arizona Republic last year, Baker said that SEL was important because it enabled K-12 educators to fulfill students’ social and emotional shortcomings caused by school closures throughout the pandemic — much of which were prompted by educators and teachers unions.

During her first school board meeting earlier this month, Baker listed greater inclusivity of special needs children in regular classrooms, expanding LGBTQ+ rights, hiring SEL teachers, and emphasizing diversity among her priorities. Baker quoted Gov. Katie Hobbs in her introductory speech, saying that there wasn’t a shortage of teachers, just a crisis retention.

In addition to her dislike of “white Christians,” Baker appears to have a disdain for any groups composed mainly of white people — even if they’re children. In response to SOSAZ Director Beth Lewis posting a picture of Treasurer Kimberly Yee’s visit to the Brophy College Preparatory Republican Club last fall, Baker scorned the fact that the group looked too white.

“There wasn’t one [GIF] that said ‘so many white boys,’” wrote Baker.

Baker also supports allowing biological males to join female sports teams and enter female spaces, such as locker rooms and restrooms. Baker derided concerned parents opposed to this permissiveness as “transphobic.” 

Throughout her campaign, Baker opposed efforts to ban any books from classrooms. She emphasized this stance as recognizing the importance of multiculturalism. Yet, Baker opposed any aspect of religion from entering the classroom — namely, Christianity. Baker claimed her opposition represented the proper understanding of ensuring a separation of church and state.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Superintendent Kathy Hoffman Sued Over Adult-Supervised, Secretive Sex Chat Rooms for Minors

Superintendent Kathy Hoffman Sued Over Adult-Supervised, Secretive Sex Chat Rooms for Minors

By Corinne Murdock |

Arizona Department of Education (ADE) Superintendent Kathy Hoffman is facing a lawsuit for advertising links to chat rooms where minors discuss sex and gender with adults present and without parents necessarily knowing.

The lawsuit, case number CV2022-093889 filed in the Maricopa County Superior Court, requests that ADE remove the chat space from its website. Judge Peter Thompson was assigned the case. 

The chat room website advertised by the ADE, Q Chat Space, targets LGBTQ+ youth 13 years and older. It offers a “quick escape” feature that masks a child’s visit to the site by redirecting from the Q Chat Space site to Google’s homepage. The adults facilitating discussions, “Q Chatters,” don’t have to be licensed professionals.

Some of the upcoming chat rooms are: “Sex and Relationships Q&A,” “FOR TRANS/NON-BINARY YOUTH: Activism and Allyship,” and “FOR TRANS/NONBINARY YOUTH: Sex Ed.”

The site has minors offer personal information when signing up, including their sexual orientation, romantic interests, gender identity, email address, birth date, ZIP code, and race.

According to the ADE, Hoffman developed the LGBTQ+ resource page with her Equitable and Inclusive Practices Advisory Council (EIPAC) before launching it last June as part of Pride Month.

The citizen behind the lawsuit, Peggy McClain, claimed that Hoffman violated the Parents’ Bill of Rights provision prohibiting any attempts to encourage or coerce minors to withhold information from their parents. McClain further asserted that the children’s data was vulnerable to hacking and could therefore be sold on the dark web to child predators, noting that some of the adult chat facilitators could be child predators as well. 

“By doing the things set forth above, Katherine Hoffman is encouraging the grooming of young children,” stated McClain.

Q Chat Space is a collaborative effort of Planned Parenthood, the LGBTQ+ support network organization PFLAG, and LGBTQ+ community center organization CenterLink. 

ADE also directs minors to another chat site similar to the one contested in the lawsuit: Gender Spectrum. That chat site is open to minors aged 10 and older.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.