At the center of ELL debate is a youngster named Flores
Arizona Republic
Mar. 5, 2006

Miriam Flores

Editor's note: Miriam Flores was the little girl who in 1992 became the center of the landmark Flores vs. Arizona lawsuit that has forced the state to reform how it teaches students learning English.

As an 8-year-old child growing up in Nogales and speaking Spanish at home, she struggled to keep up with fellow students when her bilingual classes ended in the third grade. The Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest sued the state on her behalf, and over the course of a decade she won the support of the courts.

She is now a 19-year-old nursing student at the University of Arizona and was recognized at Thursday's English-language-learners forum sponsored by
The Republic and ThinkAZ. Today, she shares some of her thoughts as the state still wrestles with how to solve the problem she raised more than a decade ago.

I found Thursday's English Language Learners Forum to be remarkable.

The points made by each of the panelists were well supported.

What startled me was to see data on the test scores of many English-learners and to realize how poorly many of them are performing in school.

However, I am also pleased that many teachers and administrators are willing to make a difference.

Not only have they determined ways to get proper preparation to solve this problem, but are also willing to cooperate and do whatever is necessary to help students overcome their academic obstacles.

Now that the state is aware of what these students are facing, it is time to take action in the situation.

I am glad to know that after 11 years of waiting, the state is taking into consideration the fact that this problem is at a critical stage throughout Arizona, as every year the number of English-learners keeps increasing substantially.

I also believe the support given to these students is an investment in our communities that will be rewarding to Arizona for years to come.