by David Safier

Looks like Ed Supe Tom Horne has a little ELL mutiny on his hands, first in Sahuarita and now in Tucson and Sunnyside.


Sahuarita started the mutiny by stating it wouldn’t follow the state mandated English Immersion program that would segregate ELL students for four hours a day of intensive English instruction. The school district consulted with the U.S. Ed Department’s Civil Rights division, which decided the state law was discriminatory. See, if ELL students spend more than half their day learning English, they don’t have time to take the courses they need to earn credits and graduate.

Thinking he was in Casablanca, not The Horne Mutiny, Tom said he was “Shocked, shocked!” that Sahuarita would go against his ruling. (All right, he only said “Shocked” once. Grant me a little license, OK?)

Then Tucson and Sunnyside piled on, saying they would cut English Immersion to two hours instead of the required four. First of all, they agreed with Sahuarita that four hours is too long. Second, they said the state hasn’t given the districts enough money to fund the four hour mandate. In fact, that state didn’t give Tucson a dime.

Horne’s answer: Do it anyway. Or, to paraphrase Captain Queeg from the original 1954 Caine Mutiny, “There are three ways of doing things in Arizona education: The right way, the wrong way, and my way. You do things my way, and we’ll get along.”

The problem with Horne’s way, other than the unfunded mandate part, is that it doesn’t seem to work. Arizona’s English Immersion program is the result of an initiative sponsored by Californian Ron Unz, who managed to get similar initiatives passed in California and Massachusetts. Recent studies compared the progress of ELL students in the three states to students in states using bilingual education. The results were the same with either method — except in Arizona where, for some reason, the students have been slipping behind everyone else over the past few years.

A few more quotes from the 1954 Caine Mutiny:

Captain Queeg Horne: “They laughed at me and made jokes but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt and with… geometric logic… that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox DID exist. English Immersion is superior to Bilingual Education.”

Lt. Barney Greenwald Sahuarita, Tucson and Sunnyside School Districts: “I’ve read the preliminary investigation very carefully and I think that what you’ve done stinks.”

Expect further developments in this drama over the summer as the districts gear up for the new school year.