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English for the Children of Arizona Project

Rep. Laura Knaperek Endorses Prop. 203,
Proposes "English for the Families" Act

CONTACT: MARIA MENDOZA
(520) 294-7212

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEPTEMBER 21, 2000
PR #5

Phoenix, AZ---Rep. Laura Knaperek (R-Tempe), the respected legislator who had spent several years seeking to reform Arizona bilingual education, today abandoned her effort, and instead endorsed Prop. 203, the "English for the Children" initiative. She also proposed establishing a new system of adult English literacy programs with the money saved by Prop. 203.

"After three years of futile effort, I have concluded that reforming bilingual education is politically impossible. Our Hispanic students can't wait any longer. Our best hope for providing these children with a decent education is by supporting Prop. 203, dismantling bilingual education, and relying on programs which work."

Rep. Knaperek had previously been reluctant to support Prop. 203, worried that the measure was too drastic. However, her fears were removed by the huge recent gains in Stanford-9 test scores by California's 1.4 million immigrant students after the passage of Prop. 227, a similar proposal.

"The New York Times and other national papers have reported that California's immigrant students gained an average of 9 points in reading and 14 points in math after Prop. 227 became law, with even greater gains in those districts that most completely abandoned bilingual education. I expect that Arizona's Hispanic students will benefit just as much from Prop. 203."

"Unfortunately, our Prop. 203 does not contain the very successful adult English literacy programs created by Prop. 227 in California. I will therefore introduce the Arizona "English for the Families" Act, establishing a statewide system of free adult English literacy programs to be funded by the estimated $20 million saved annually under Prop. 203."

Margaret Garcia Dugan, a Glendale high school principal and co-chair of the Prop. 203 campaign, hailed Rep. Knaperek's support for Prop. 203 and the new adult English literacy programs. "By passing both Prop. 203 and Rep. Knaperek's "English for the Families" Act, tens of thousands of Hispanic families in Arizona will finally be taught to read, write, and speak English, helping them in their desire to become more successful and productive citizens."

On Tuesday, a statewide poll sponsored by television station KAET-TV showed Prop. 203 leading among Arizona voters by a margin of 71% to 20%.