Is Something Missing From My Flores v. Arizona Story?

By Mary Ann Zehr — April 13, 2009 1 min read
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Bill Evers, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, has critiqued on his blog the article I wrote about a long-running ELL case, Flores v. Arizona, published in Education Week last week and concludes I used “biased journalistic judgment” in my writing of the article.

I beg to differ. But I’ve always found “letters to the editor” instructive, so I treated his blog entry as such and read it carefully. When I cover this legal battle in the future—specifically when it is taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court next week on April 20 and when a ruling is made—I’ll take into consideration his suggestions for additional sources I could tap.

Here is Evers’ rationale for saying I used “biased journalistic judgment":

The reporter has lined up nonprofits, grassroots teachers, parents, and children, and Democrats (including President Obama) on one side. She then has lined up local and state management (defended by Kenneth Starr of Monica Lewinsky fame) and Republicans on the other. The problem with this morality play is that it leaves out any grassroots teachers, parents, and children who oppose more spending—indeed, any taxpayer activists who are informed about Arizona education—and any nonprofits on the other side (like the Goldwater Institute—see its analysis here and here).

Evers implies that I somehow lined up who was on each side of the case. I didn’t. I took my cues from the court case and focused on the folks directly involved in it.

Evers’ point that I interview someone from the Goldwater Institute, which has taken the side of Republican legislators who say they have made good-faith efforts to provide adequate funding for ELLs, might have proved interesting. But the institute hasn’t filed a brief nor is it representing anyone in the case.

I went to Nogales with the goal of informing readers about the community and school district from which the court case originated. I also had an important goal of telling readers in the story about the arguments of state officials and legislators in the case.

I think I accomplished both of these goals.

The case is ongoing so I’ll have more opportunities to write about it. If there’s someone out there who would like to weigh in on the case, please drop me a line.

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