Officials at odds over English case
Arizona Republic
March 19, 2009


by Pat Kossan

Gov. Jan Brewer and Attorney General Terry Goddard are at odds over how involved Goddard's office should be in a divisive education case currently pending in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The long-running case, known as Flores vs. Arizona, could help determine how much money Arizona public schools must spend on students who enter the classroom without a strong understanding of the English language.
On one side of the dispute is state schools Superintendent Tom Horne and Republican legislative leaders, who say that Arizona's Legislature has already passed a law giving students sufficient money to help children learn English, and that any further demands by a federal court would constitute meddling in state business.

Their opponent is Tim Hogan of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest.
A year ago, Hogan convinced the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the state had failed to comply with a 2000 federal district court order requiring it to adequately fund a language program.
The decision meant the state faced the threat of fines up to $2 million a day.
State lawmakers responded to the Appeal's Court ruling by passing a law that gave schools about $40 million to improve language learning.
Hogan and schools, most of whom are at odds with Horne on the issue, said that level of funding was woefully inadequate.
When Hogan continued to pursue the case, Horne and lawmakers hired their own attorneys to seek a Supreme Court decision.
In a March 11 letter, Brewer, a Republican, instructed Attorney General Terry Goddard, a Democrat, to lend his support to the private lawyers hired by Horne and the Republican legislative leaders.
Goddard, who has previously argued against asking the Supreme Court to step into the case, declined this week to comply with Brewer's request.
In a letter dated Monday, the attorney general said that it was his job, not Brewer's job, to direct the legal decisions for the state, and that his clients are Arizona and the State Board of Education, rather than Brewer, Horne or the Republican lawmakers.
A Supreme Court decision is expected in June.