Excessive English Language Learner requirements implemented under Napolitano’s legal representation

By now, you’ve all heard of Flores v. Arizona, which is currently being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. It is a lawsuit brought in 1992 by the parents of Spanish-speaking children in Nogales, AZ, alleging that their civil rights were violated because the state wasn’t providing adequate education for their language difficulties (note – this lawsuit has been a sore spot because no doubt a large percentage of these students are illegal immigrants or the children of illegal immigrants, and funding illegal immigrants has contributed to the state’s economic crisis). The lawsuit was filed against the state – namely the Superintendent of Public Instruction, who was represented by the Attorney General’s Office.

In 2000, federal district court judge Alfredo Marquez, known for being an activist left wing judge, ruled that there was not enough funding. Instead of appealing the decision, the state worked out terms of a consent decree with the plaintiffs that required ALL of Arizona’s – not just Nogales where there are a higher level of Spanish-speakers – to implement a high level of school programs (requiring a higher level of funding) for Spanish-speaking students. The AZ Department of Education produced a cost analysis shortly afterwards predicting the cost of these programs would cost up to $4,600 per ELL student.

Since then, the state legislature has tried repeatedly to increase funding for ELL. Unfortunately, Judge Marquez continues to rule that the additional funding isn’t enough. We wonder how much Arizona has spent on this issue since the lawsuit was originally initiated in 1992. Washington Legal Foundation characterizes it as one federal district court judge usurping the role of the legislature and running Arizona’s school policy for years. The law doesn’t define what “appropriate” education means, Marquez should be deciding cases based on what the law says, not how he decides to define it. Currently, Arizona spends $430 extra per year on each ELL student – still not enough for Judge Marquez, who has threatened to put legislative leaders in jail! Judge Raner Collins has since taken over the case, following in the footsteps of Judge Marquez against the state.

Clearly, Napolitano did a poor job representing the state as Attorney General in this lawsuit. The onerous terms of the consent decree, which then-Superintendent of Schools Lisa Graham Keegan signed on behalf of the state in 2000, should have NEVER forced these excessive requirements on other cities and towns around Arizona. The decision should have been appealed in 2000. Thanks, Napolitano, during these times of economic crisis, your legacy lives on.


  1. No worries now.. Napolitano will just include anyone that objects on her Right Wing Hate list.

  2. Reagan Coalition says

    The Trib had an excellent editorial on this: http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/138242

  3. George of the Desert says

    Give credit where it is due: Chewie is right. Napolitano signed a consent decree in 2000 that put us in this constitutional mess. Thankfully, Tom Horne has aggressivley pursued this and hopefully the US Supreme Court will agree that AZ has made great strides in this area. Oh, the Supremes also ought to agree that legislatures, not judges, have the constitutional obligation to appropriate taxpayer dollars. This is a HUGE constitutional issue.

  4. Why aren’t the teachers and the judge demanding more from the parents? At my kids’ school if they are falling behind our teachers tell us what we need to work on at home.

    Why don’t we expect the same thing from spanish speaking families? If they struggle with English themselves, then helping their kids would be a great way for them all to learn together.

    Throwing money, or a judge ordering a state to throw money at an education problem is rarely if EVER the answer.

    Not that it is even close to his position to demand that the state do that…

  5. This last year I renewed all of my certificates and had to take a couple thousand of dollars worth of ELL certification classes. Structured English Immersion training. I know have a third certificate in this field.

    For the life of me, I do not know if it matters. The books and reading were blatantly slanted, and the actual training was minimal. But, I am now SEI certified.

    The classes do not make the programs viable. The lawsuit, a cornerstone of the training I might add, don’t change teh reality that English Language Learners are at a disadvantage the moment they walk in to an predominantly ENglish speaking school.
    I might piggy back your post Chewie with this one teacher’s perspective. Good, timely piece!

  6. Though ceritifed,I obviously cannot spell nor proofread.. always a good sign with a teacher–impressive 🙂

Leave a Reply