Arizona House rejects measure to prohibit 'social promotion' in schools

Arizona House rejects measure to prohibit 'social promotion' in schools

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PHOENIX — Legislation to outlaw “social promotion” in schools hit a snag Monday as two Republicans declined to go along with a proposal by one of their own.

Rep. Joanne Osborne, R-Goodyear, reminded lawmakers of 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,” she said, adding that House Bill 2013 was “heading in the right direction.”

But when the issue came up for a final roll-call vote on Monday, Osborne said proponents had not looked at what such a policy would mean to schools 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?”

Without answers, she said, she could not support the measure.

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, R-Prescott, who did not explain his vote, making the final tally 31-29 against the bill.

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, D-Tucson, said lawmakers have no information on the number of children already held back nor about those who, through the concept of “social promotion,” are advanced to the next grade even if they fail to master skills taught in their current grade.

The legislation would have banned that practice except for certain students with special needs and some who entered school with limited English skills.

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