English teaching funds get
Capitol Media Services
By Howard Fischer
An attorney for parents of
Spanish-speaking children wants a federal judge
to impose a deadline for state lawmakers to come
up with more money to teach their youngsters
Tim Hogan said Monday that the
state has not been moving swiftly to comply with
a 4-year-old ruling that Arizona comply with
federal laws requiring states to adequately fund
instruction so students can learn English.
Hogan, in legal papers filed in
federal court in Tucson, said lawmakers promised
to provide a complete cost study by Dec. 1,
paving the presumed way for the Legislature to
provide the funding next year.
But Hogan told U.S. District
Judge Alfredo Marquez that the Dec. 1 deadline
came and went without the required report being
"The Legislature is once again in
position to ignore the court's judgment for yet
another legislative session," Hogan said. So he
wants Marquez to order lawmakers to have funding
in place no later than the end of their session
that begins next month.
Hogan said that if lawmakers miss
that deadline, he would seek to cut off all
state funding for public schools, a move that
effectively would shut them down.
"Without an appropriate order
from the court now, the plaintiffs will lose yet
another year in securing the relief to which
they are entitled under the court's judgment,"
Parents of students in the
Nogales Unified School District filed suit more
than a dozen years ago charging the state was
not complying with federal laws requiring
schools to offer adequate English-language
instruction. Marquez ruled in 2000 that the $150
in additional per-student state aid being
provided was "arbitrary and capricious," with no
bearing on actual cost.
Lawmakers subsequently voted to
increase that, with the current figure standing
at $355 per student. But Marquez found in 2002
that that figure, too, was flawed because it was
not based on any actual data concerning the real
That led lawmakers to seek a cost
study. A preliminary version released earlier
this year showed that, depending on proficiency
and grade level, the state needed to add
anywhere from another $703 to $2,495 per
student. But there never was a final report -
and the Dec. 1 deadline that Marquez accepted as
an "interim measure" never was met.
Hogan said that in the five years
since Marquez issued his ruling, "thousands of
English-language learners have attended school
in a system that is inadequately funded." The
result, he said, is that they have not received
the educational programs they need - and the
state is required under federal law to provide.