Kenneth Starr Steps into the World of ELLs

By Mary Ann Zehr — September 02, 2008 1 min read
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Word has it that today, Sept. 2, Kenneth Starr will file a writ of certiorari that asks the U.S. Supreme Court to review Flores v. Arizona, a long-running case about English-language learners in Arizona.

Arizona officials hired Mr. Starr, the former Independent Counsel on the Whitewater matter, in July. It will be his job to try to get the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the state officials’ arguments that Arizona is in compliance with federal laws in how it pays for the education of English-language learners. Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne told me in an interview back in March that he was planning to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concerning Flores v. Arizona. The case was filed in 1992. The appeals court upheld a ruling by a lower court and a panel of the appeals court that a state law passed in 2006 did not satisfy the lower court’s mandate that the state must find a way to adequately finance programs for English-language learners.

Arizona journalists and bloggers reported in July (here, here, and here) that state lawmakers had hired Mr. Starr. But I just heard the news last week from a source.

Mr. Starr is best known for how his investigation of the suicide death of former deputy White House council Vince Foster and the Whitewater land transaction scandal led to his investigation into the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Mr. Starr is now a law professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.

All I can say is that lawyers sure are an adaptable bunch. In the highest-profile job of his career, Mr. Starr aggressively dug into details about whether former President Clinton had “sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.” Now Mr. Starr has taken a job that will require him to learn about programs for English-language learners in Arizona and how they are funded. The sharp contrast in subject makes me wonder if Mr. Starr is intentionally seeking out low-profile jobs these days.

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