Attorney: Shelve ed program until it has enough funding
Arizona Republic
May 3, 2008


by Mary Jo Pitzl - May. 3, 2008 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

A federal court should suspend the state's new program for English instruction until it is adequately funded and set a deadline for the Legislature to provide the necessary money, the attorney in the long-standing case argued in a court filing Friday.
"This Legislature doesn't do the job," Tim Hogan said, explaining why he is returning, as promised, to the federal court that has overseen the Flores v. Arizona case.
Hogan's filing comes less than a month after lawmakers approved $40 million to pay for programs for the estimated 138,000 students struggling to learn English.
Although that action satisfied a court deadline, and held off the prospect of $2 million daily fines, it's not enough to cover the costs of English instruction, Hogan says.
For example, those school districts with some of the biggest populations of English-learner students get no money under the funding request submitted by the state superintendent of public instruction, Tom Horne, and approved by the Legislature.
That's because the state's formula counted existing dollars that school districts, such as Phoenix Elementary, were already spending on English learners against their application for state assistance. A total of 32 school districts, representing more than 75,000 students classified as English learners, get no money under the legislative plan.
Hogan says this is wrong, because English-learner programs should be paid from a specific state appropriation, not by taking dollars from other programs.
The state's budget approach, he said, "is not only inadequate, it is irrational as well."

Arizona schools are supposed to start intensive four-hour daily English-instruction programs this fall, using the dollars provided by the state. But Hogan is asking the judge to delay that program until it is properly funded.

Last month, state lawmakers and Horne lost their bid to have the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals take another look at its ruling rejecting Arizona's arguments that its English-learner plan, created by lawmakers two years ago, fulfills the equal-opportunity requirements of federal law.
Horne has indicated they will appeal that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.