State Capitol News
Fri June 26, 2009
Supreme Court hands state victory in English Language Learner debate
By Howard Fischer
Phoenix, AZ – Today's decision of the U-S Supreme Court on the state's
responsibility to fund English learner programs is a victory for
lawmakers and school superintendent Tom Horne. But it's not the last word.
The court concluded a trial judge was wrong to order the state
over and over again to come up with more money for programs to
teach English. The justices said the only way courts can
intervene is if there is proof that districts throughout the
state are not now complying with the federal law that requires
states to take appropriate action to help students learn,
evidence the court said the trial judge did not seek or get. But
Tim Hogan who represents plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said the
state's own figures prove that. They show that only 29 percent of
these students proved they learned enough to be classified as
(I know the superintendent likes to think that that is a success.
But only in his mind. When you're only reclassifying 29 percent
of the students on a yearly basis, I don't know how you can say
the program's working.)
But Horne said Hogan is wrong on both what the law requires and
what the facts show.
(All it has to show is we're taking appropriate action. I think
we're going to show we're doing more than any other state in the
country. 29 percent compared to historical numbers in other
states is a very high percentage.)
It now will be up to that federal judge in Tucson to decide what
more, if anything, the state has to do.