A Glimpse of What’s to Come in Flores v. Arizona?

By Mary Ann Zehr — January 26, 2009 1 min read

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in the case of Flores v. Arizona in April. The lawsuit was filed in 1992 and concerns whether Arizona adequately funds the education of English-language learners.

In the meantime, the Arizona Republic continues to print opinions on the case, including that of Tom Horne, the Arizona superintendent of public instruction, who is one of the parties who asked the nation’s highest court to take up the case.

For columnist E.J. Montini’s take on the lawsuit, read “Kids Still Losers in English-Learner Suit,” published Jan. 15. For Mr. Horne’s response to Mr. Montini’s column, read “Different View of English-Learner Progress,” published Jan. 24.

Let me provide some information about the education of ELLs in Arizona that was recently published in Quality Counts 2009:

--Arizona is one of three states (the others are Florida and New York) that require all prospective teachers to show they are competent to teach ELLs.
--4.9 percent of Arizona’s ELLs (grades 4 and 8 averaged) tested proficient in math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2007, compared with 9.6 percent nationwide. 3.3 percent of Arizona’s ELLs tested proficient in reading on the NAEP that same year, compared with 5.6 percent nationwide.
--Arizona is one of 32 states with a funding formula that includes weights or adjustments for ELL students. But it’s also one of 24 states that permits that money to be used for any educational purpose and doesn’t require it to be used for ELLs. Ten states don’t provide any additional funds for ELLs.
--In the 2006-07 school year, Arizona reclassified 10.7 percent of its ELLs as fluent in English, compared with the national average of 12.9 percent.

It will be interesting to see if any of this data will surface in court documents or oral arguments.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.