Tom Horne, Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction, is asking the state legislature to require charter schools to adhere to the same law that public schools must follow: that they be prohibited from educating students who are residents in Mexico but cross the border just to attend school. Now, Horne said, charter schools are exempt from the requirement.
Horne says in a press release he put out today that he recently learned “taxpayers are paying a charter school for educating students who are residents of Mexico and who cross the border to attend.” The schools chief notes that while Arizona is required to provide a free public education to undocumented students, it’s not required to educate the residents of another country.
In my visits to a number of Arizona and Texas border towns over the years, I have found the notion of a Mexican “resident” a bit murky. I’ve interviewed quite a few students, for example, who live with relatives or siblings on the U.S. side of the border and attend U.S. public schools, but whose parents live on the Mexican side of the border.
I’ve also interviewed one youth who is likely the kind of person that Horne believes shouldn’t be enrolled in U.S. schools. Because he was born in the United States, the young man was a U.S. citizen. But he lived in Mexico (with his girlfriend and child there) and walked across the border each day to attend school in the United States.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.