State Capitol News
Fri May 2, 2008
ELL suit headed back to court
By Howard Fischer
Phoenix, AZ – The English language learner lawsuit is headed back to court. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.
State lawmakers voted last month to spend an extra $40.6 million
to teach English to students who come to school speaking another
language. But that was far less than the more than $270 million
in requests from school districts. And attorney Tim Hogan said
some districts got no money at all. He noted that lawmakers are
arguing that these districts already have enough money from other
sources and don't need the extra cash.
(And the court responded, both the district court and the court
of appeals, said no, that's not the system you constructed.
You've constructed a system that assumes a base level funding for
each student and then you add on for ELL students. And that's the
system you've got to live with.)
Hogan said what that means is the state can not force schools to
divert money they are given for regular education programs to
provide the English instruction required by federal law. But
state School Superintendent Tom Horne said what the Legislature
did puts the state into compliance with both federal law and the
court order. And he intends to defend the action whenever the
case goes back to U.S. District Court Judge Raner Collins.
For Arizona Public Radio, this is Howard Fischer.