Pondering Horne v. Flores

By Mary Ann Zehr — April 22, 2009 1 min read
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John Wills Lloyd over at TeachEffectively reflects on Horne v. Flores, the Arizona ELL case that was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday. He cites my story that previewed the case, “Roots of Federal ELL Case Run Deep,” as well as a preview by NPR’s Nina Totenberg. Our Web site has since published my story and a post by Mark Walsh at the School Law Blog that report on Monday’s oral arguments. Update: The Arizona Republic ran on a story on the arguments, too.

Lloyd argues that effective teaching, not necessarily more funds (as the Flores side of the case contends), is needed to fix services for ELLs in Arizona. He surmises that Miriam Flores, now a student at the University of Arizona, who was an ELL and one of the plaintiffs in the original class action filed in a U.S. District court in Arizona, likely didn’t receive effective instruction.

He characterizes the “default methods” Miriam Flores likely received in the 1990s as “the namby-pamby, by-guess-and-by-gosh, apparent-fun-is-more-important-than-acquiring-skills, don’t-challenge-the-poor-darlings, close-is-good-enough, I-use-methods-that-fit-my-teaching-style, blah-blah-blah approach.”

Meanwhile, Mike Petrilli over at Flypaper observes that the U.S. Supreme Court justices seem to be the only folks in town who are deliberately talking about the No Child Left Behind Act. The justices brought up NCLB a number of times during the oral arguments for Horne v. Flores. (A link to a transcript for the case, 08-289, is here.)

One of the arguments of state legislators in the court case is that since Arizona is complying with NCLB, it is also taking “appropriate action” under civil rights law to help ELLs overcome language barriers.

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