Education Funding

Governor Vetoes Plan for English-Learners

By Mary Ann Zehr — September 13, 2005 1 min read
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The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2004 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.

Arizona

Gov. Rod Blagojevich

Democrat
Senate:
12 Democrats
18 Republicans

House:
22 Democrats
39 Republicans

Enrollment:
988,000

For the second budget year in a row, Gov. Janet Napolitano has persuaded Arizona legislators to provide funding for voluntary full-day kindergarten so that the program, which enrolled 10,000 children in the 2004-05 school year, can expand.

Overall, lawmakers increased K-12 spending from $3.9 billion in fiscal 2005 to $4.3 billion in fiscal 2006, or a jump of 10 percent.

Besides paying for full-day kindergarten, some of that new money will go for pay raises for teachers.

As the 2005 legislative session closed, lawmakers passed a bill intended to address how the state would provide adequate funding for the education of English-language learners. On Jan. 25, a federal judge gave the legislature until the end of April or the end of the 2005 session—whichever came first—to figure out how to fund programs for such students. U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins, in Tucson, made the ruling as part of the Flores v. Arizona lawsuit, filed in 1992.

But in May, Gov. Napolitano vetoed the legislature’s proposal.

Timothy M. Hogan, the executive director of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, which represents the plaintiffs in Flores v. Arizona, has written in court documents that the bill failed to base funding on known costs of teaching English-language learners. He filed a motion on Aug. 2 with the court asking the federal government to withhold federal highway funds from Arizona as a sanction for not meeting court orders.

A version of this article appeared in the September 14, 2005 edition of Education Week

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