Court action threatened over funding for English
PHOENIX - Arizona will wind up back in court if it adopts a budget adding only $15 million to programs to teach English, the attorney for parents who sued the state said Thursday.
Attorney Tim Hogan said the deal does not comply with the order by U.S. District Judge Raner Collins of Tucson to provide "appropriate and constitutional" funding for English-acquisition programs.
Hogan said if this plan is approved by lawmakers and signed by the governor, he will seek financial sanctions against the state. He said he will ask Collins to withhold $400 million the state gets each year in U.S. aid for highway construction.
Why highway funds?
"Because (state leaders) care about these," he said. "They don't care about education."
The budget negotiated between Gov. Janet Napolitano and the Legislature's GOP leaders amounts to about an extra $75 per student for "English language learners" - kids from homes where English is not the primary language and who are not proficient in English.
That brings the special state aid up to $425. Yet a study ordered by a federal judge showed that, at minimum, it costs at least $700 to help these students.
Napolitano said the deal is a "down payment."