AZ Bill That Would Hold Students Back in School Hits Snag
By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
PHOENIX -- Legislation to outlaw "social promotion'' hit a snag Monday as two Republicans refused to go along with a proposal by one of their own.
Rep. Joanne Osborne of Goodyear reminded lawmakers about her own story about holding back her son in the fourth grade after she found that he was still reading at a second-grade level due to hearing problems he had as a baby.
"It was the right thing to do for my son at that time,'' she told colleagues. And Osborne said she believes that HB 2013 is "heading in the right direction.''
The measure gained preliminary approval last week on a voice vote.
But when the issue came up for a final roll-call on Monday, the first-term lawmaker said proponents have not looked at what such a hard-and-fast policy would mean to schools across the state during the next few years "as they try to handle the many children that may be held back.
"What does that mean to class size,'' Osborne asked. "What does that mean to the overall education to all that are in those areas?''
And without answers, she said she could not support the measure.
That lack of knowledge was cited by Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, D-Tucson.
She said lawmakers have no information on not just the number of children already held back but also those who, through the concept of "social promotion,'' are advanced on to the next grade even though they had not shown mastery of the skills from the current grade. The legislation would have banned that practice except for certain students with special needs and some who entered school with limited English-language skills.
Osborne's opposition, by itself, was enough to quash the bill in the 60-member House where 31 votes are needed for final approval, as all 29 Democrats were in opposition.
But she was joined by Rep. Noel Campbell of Prescott who did not explain his vote, making the final tally 29-31.
Monday's vote does not necessarily mean the issue is dead. Rep. John Fillmore, R-Apache Junction, may have ways of resurrecting the issue later this session.
On Twitter: @azcapmedia