Moving away from the 4-hour block: Arizona’s distinctive path to reversing its restrictive language policies

Yalda M. Kaveh, Katie A. Bernstein, Claudia Cervantes-Soon, Sara Rodriguez-Martinez, Saida Mohamed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In spring 2019, without controversy or fanfare and without violating the voter mandate of Proposition 203, emergent bilinguals in Arizona were once again granted unrestricted access to dual language bilingual education after nearly 20 years. The policy change was accomplished through a seemingly small piece of legislation that reduced the daily Structured English Immersion requirement from four hours to two hours. In this study, we analyze the Senate and House education committee hearings in which this legislation was unanimously approved before being signed into law by the governor. Using critical discourse analysis and through a theoretical lens of interest convergence, we examine the strategic moves utilized by speakers and legislators to build consensus for this remarkable, yet overlooked, legislation. We found that, in contrast to policy reforms in California and Massachusetts, which used a “multilingualism-for-all” strategy, the speakers and legislators in Arizona focused on English learners. Yet, they worked to show that a change benefitting English learners would also benefit parents, schools, teachers, districts, and even the state of Arizona. Our findings suggest that advocacy for bilingual education that is informed by contextual awareness and translated into the local discourse can produce success, even in conservative contexts such as Arizona.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-135
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Multilingual Research Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022


  • Arizona
  • English language learners
  • Language policy
  • dual language education
  • emergent bilingual students
  • interest convergence
  • structured English immersion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'Moving away from the 4-hour block: Arizona’s distinctive path to reversing its restrictive language policies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this