Bilingual Education Funding is Pushed

In the fight for bilingual education, money is the international
language.

That’s why a group of Arizona legislators is pushing for $67
million in additional bilingual funding next year.

“Every child must be given an opportunity to learn, no matter
where they live or what language they speak,” Rep. Herschella Horton,
D-Tucson, said Monday.

Hoping to push the issue to the forefront, Horton joined
supporters of Senate Bill 1242, a bilingual-education measure.

The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Joe Eddie Lopez, D-southwest
Phoenix. It’s designed to satisfy a federal court order requiring the
state to spend more on students who speak limited English.

“This is a civil-rights issue that was won by Flores,” Lopez said,
referring to the Nogales family that sued the state for failing to
teach students who aren’t proficient in English.

But the chairman of the Senate Education Committee said the state
doesn’t have the money to fund the measure.

“It (the bill) also has way too much central authority and
regulation,” said Sen. John Huppenthal, R-Chandler. “I believe in
local control.”

In addition, Huppenthal said the bill gives more money to schools
with students who score at the 40th percentile or lower on
standardized tests. Despite the opposition, he promised the bill a
hearing before the education committee on Thursday.

“It faces a very challenging future. It has to compete with
teacher pay increase, safer schools, smaller schools,” he said.

Arizona must improve bilingual education or face another court
challenge. Tim Hogan of the Center for Law in the Public Interest
said he’ll return to court if lawmakers don’t address bilingual
education problems.

“The real question,” he said, “is whether they’re making good
faith progress towards complying with the court order.”



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