State Capitol News
10:31 pm
Thu March 6, 2008

Schools ask for ELL delay

Phoenix, AZ – State school superintendents want a reprieve from new
requirements on how they teach English, even if it has to come
from a federal judge. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer
explains.


State legislators approved a plan two years ago mandating that
all students classified as English language learners have four
hours a day of immersion. That requirement is supposed to finally
get Arizona into compliance with federal law requiring states to
ensure all students have an opportunity to learn English. The
state is supposed to pay the extra costs. But the $274 million in
requests submitted by school districts was pared by state School
Superintendent Tom Horne to just $40 million. Mike Smith,
lobbyist for the Arizona School Administrators Association said
refusing to comply is not an option. The law allows Horne to
penalize school districts by taking away not just their share of
that $40 million but even the $360 per student they now are
getting.

(If we're required to implement it in 08 and we obviously believe
we don't have sufficient funding, even if they fund it at $40 mil
we don't think it's sufficient, and then he rolls in and starts
filing sanctions, we've got to get this thing stopped.)

Smith first intends to ask lawmakers for a delay while the
adequacy of funding is debated. But if that doesn't work, the
superintendents will intervene in the federal lawsuit and ask
Judge Raner Collins to keep Horne from punishing those districts
who don't comply.

For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard
Fischer.