New Poll Finds 60 Percent of Arizonans Support Dual-Language Learning

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza) in partnership with Helios Education Foundation unveiled findings of a new poll of Arizona voters that demonstrated broad support for state bill HCR 2026, a ballot measure that would give voters the opportunity to adopt dual language instruction for children to master the English language. The poll findings revealed a marked shift in voter attitudes with 60 percent of Arizona voters supporting a dual-language education measure. The poll also found that six out of 10 voters expressed support for a measure that would allow undocumented students to be eligible for in-state tuition.

Education advocates have long-pushed for the measure as it would give schools the flexibility to establish research-based dual-language programs that ensure students learn English while preserving their native language. The issue of educational equity is a priority for UnidosUS both at the national and local levels. In fact, just last week on Tuesday, April 23, UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía was in Arizona to deliver the prestigious John P. Frank Memorial Lecture at Arizona State University. Her lecture “The Quest for Latino Educational Equity” can be found here.

Key findings of the statewide poll include:

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

“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, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at UnidosUS.

“As a foundation focused on improving Latino Student Success, Helios Education Foundation is 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,” concluded Luna.

Since its introduction, HCR 2026 has had strong bipartisan backing, passing nearly unanimously in the Senate Education Committee following a 59-1 vote in the Arizona State House of Representatives. If approved by the Senate, the ballot measure would go before voters in the 2020 election.

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.