Most Arizonans Support Dual-Language Education

A brilliantly colorful sunset in the Sonoran Desert landscape with a little girl gazing up at a towering saguaro cactus.

A recent voter poll, commissioned by UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza) and Helios Education Foundation, indicates that the majority of Arizonans support dual-language education for children, and nearly 60% of respondents approve of a measure that would allow undocumented students to receive in-state tuition rates.

Education is the hot topic in Arizona, where voters have singled it out as the most important issue facing the state for four years in a row. According to a January survey, in an open-ended question, education was ranked most important (40% of respondents), while 29% cited border issues, and 8% chose health care.

“Our poll results reflect a strong rebuke of Arizona’s rigid approach to teaching English learner (EL) students—an approach that has negatively impacted academic outcomes for the approximately 100,000 ELs enrolled in the AZ public education system. We are not only encouraged by the broad support that exists to introduce dual-language learning models to English instruction, but—more importantly—by the steps Arizona voters and lawmakers alike are taking to restore equity to Arizona’s education system,” said Eric Rodriguez, VP of Policy and Advocacy at UnidosUS.

“As a foundation focused on improving Latino Student Success, we are encouraged by these poll results. They indicate definitively that Arizonans recognize the importance of ensuring all students in our state have access to a high-quality education,” said Paul J. Luna, president and CEO, Helios Education Foundation. “Ensuring all students have opportunities to succeed in education, regardless of primary language spoken at home or citizenship status, will help secure a stronger quality of life for all of us and a stronger economic future for Arizona.”

Key findings of the statewide poll include:

  • High levels of support for the dual-language ballot measure across the political spectrum: 60% of Republican voters, 62% of Democrats, and 63% of Independents backed the measure. 
  • Support for dual-language education was also consistent across ethnicity: 56% of White voters and 69% of Hispanic voters indicated that they would vote yes on the proposal. Of note, 71% of White women expressed support for the measure. 
  • Younger voters are particularly supportive of the measure: 78% of respondents ages 18-34 say they would vote yes on the dual-language initiative.
  • Six out of ten voters (59%) also approve of a measure that would allow undocumented students to receive in-state tuition rates.

“The poll specifically addressed pending legislation before lawmakers right now—HCR 2026 and SB 1217 /HB 2186,” said Janice Palmer, VP & director of Policy at Helios Education Foundation. “HCR 2026 is a referendum that would give voters the opportunity to adopt dual-language instruction opportunities for all children – an opportunity currently not available to our English Language Learners to master the English language. SB 1217 / HB 2186 would establish the high school graduate tuition rate at all Arizona community colleges and universities, providing relief to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) students who due to a court ruling now are subject to out-of-state tuition rates, as well as other high school graduates.” The telephone survey was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies among 600 registered voters in Arizona between April 23-25, 2019. Poll results can be found here

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