GOP has plan for English-learners
Jan. 18, 2006
Napolitano says she will review revised proposal
Staff and wire reports
Gov. Janet Napolitano received a revised Republican proposal Tuesday aimed at
satisfying a federal court order and avoiding daily fines of up to $2 million by
revamping the state's program for instruction of students learning English.
Napolitano said she planned to review the GOP proposal, which was introduced as
new legislation Tuesday in both the House and the Senate for committee
"It's a complicated piece of legislation," she said after an hourlong
negotiating session with legislators.
Last spring, Napolitano vetoed an earlier version of the Republicans' proposal,
calling it inadequate.
A federal judge ordered lawmakers in December to improve English-language
learner programs during their current legislative session and ordered daily
fines starting at $500,000 if the issue isn't resolved by early next week. The
fines would rise by an increment to $2 million by the session's end.
The vetoed legislation would have required school districts to report their
costs and to apply for state grants as needed. Republicans said that approach
would provide dollars based on actual need and not an arbitrary formula.
However, Napolitano and other critics said it wouldn't ensure districts adequate
Last summer, Napolitano offered the alternative of adding dollars to the current
approach of providing districts with a set amount of dollars based on the number
of ELL students, but Republicans chose to wait for U.S. District Raner Collins'
eventual ruling, which was based on a request by plaintiffs in a class-action
lawsuit for sanctions against the state.
Senate President Ken Bennett, R-Prescott, said Tuesday that the latest
Republican proposal still would have a new state task force approve instruction
models for districts to chose among, but also would include revisions intended
to address concerns about the perceived lack of assured funding.
Actual costs to the state for the revamped programs won't be known until
instructional models are approved and districts report their costs, Bennett
Also Tuesday, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne filed legal
papers stating he'll appeal Collins' order to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of
He said federal courts do not have jurisdiction to dictate education policy to
"While it is good policy to ensure that everything is being done to teach
English to English language learners as quickly as possible, this is properly a
legislative function," Horne said.
Horne also filed motions asking for a reversal on Collin's AIMS decision. All
seniors had to pass the high school AIMS test to graduate until last month when
Collins exempted the 4,500 English learners in the Class of 2006.
Horne asked the U.S. District Court to quickly reinstate the requirement for all
It's unlikely the judge will change his mind, but Horne said his request is a
formal step before he can take his argument to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Associated Press and Republic reporter Pat Kossan contributed to this