TUSD bilingual education students receive an extra $893 in annual
funding, but only 2 percent became proficient enough in English to
enter mainstream classrooms last year.
The money comes from district, state and federal funding.
The information was provided by the Arizona Department of
Education in a report released earlier this week.
The report shows that only 184 of the 8,935 limited-English
students in bilingual programs last year were reclassified.
The rest remained in bilingual education programs.
“There’s certainly very little return for the dollar,” said Hector
Ayala, co-founder of English for the Children – Arizona, a group
trying to dismantle bilingual education statewide.
But Ayala said his group is more concerned that “kids aren’t
learning English” than with the districts’ high spending.
“We don’t really care about the money, but it should bother the
taxpayer,” he said.
The Tucson-based group is gathering signatures for a ballot
initiative similar to California’s voter-approved Proposition 227.
Silicon Valley millionaire Ron Unz, who spearheaded the California
effort, is lending financial support to the Arizona group.
Arizona Department of Education spokeswoman Laura Penny said the
price tag per student does seem high: “I mean, these are expensive
TUSD’s average base support level for students is about $2,520
annually. The figure for bilingual students is about $3,393
The district’s total bilingual budget last year amounted to $15.67
million for about 17,550 students – including 8,935 of them
classified as limited-English proficient.
TUSD board member Joel Ireland defended the district’s bilingual
budget, saying, “If we weren’t doing these programs, where would we
be? The answer is: in much worse shape.”
Ireland said he would propose spending even more money on
“What I hear from people at the (school) sites is that they are
not able to carry out (the instruction) with our current level of
support for the program,” he explained.
In an interview last week, state Superintendent of Public
Instruction Lisa Graham Keegan accused some districts of holding
children back in bilingual programs simply for the money.
“We are keeping these children in there forever and maybe because
of financial inducements,” she told the Tucson Citizen’s editorial
Penny was a bit more hopeful.
“I honestly don’t think a lot of kids are retained because they
are trying to get more funds.”
1997-98 TUSD funding sources for bilingual education
STATE FUNDING $1,172,469
State funding for bilingual education is based on school
districts’ numbers of limitedEnglish-proficient students. The
average is $151 per student.
DISTRICT FUNDING $2,955,362
School district funding used for bilingual education usually
involves maintenance and operation budgets.
FEDERAL FUNDING $11,539,538
Direct and indirect federal funding used for bilingual education
TITLE I: Intended for educationally disadvantaged children,
particularly in schools in high-poverty areas.
For bilingual programs, TUSD used $9.108 million of $11.042
TITLE VII: Intended for limited-English-proficient students and
For bilingual programs, TUSD used entire $408,563 allocation.
EMERGENCY IMMIGRANT EDUCATION PROGRAM: Intended for children who
were not born in the United States and have been attending U.S.
schools for fewer than three years.
For bilingual programs, TUSD used $440,581 of $503,545 allocation.
EVEN START: Intended for projects that blend early childhood
education, parenting instruction and adult education into a family
For bilingual programs, TUSD used entire $156,101 allocation.
NEGLECTED OR DELINQUENT LAW: Intended for children in state-run
institutions for juveniles, adult correctional institutions and
community day schools.
For bilingual purposes, TUSD used entire $50,687 allocation, in
addition to $223,120 carry-over from previous year.
CARL PERKINS VOCATIONAL AND APPLIED TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION ACT:
Intended to expand and improve school vocational education and
technical skills programs.
For bilingual programs, TUSD used $1.11 million of $1.15 million
STEWART B. McKINNEY HOMELESS EDUCATION LAW: Intended for homeless
youths to have equal access to public education.
For bilingual programs, TUSD used entire $43,800 allocation.
Sources: U.S. Department of Education, Arizona Department of
1997-98 bilingual education funding
Earmarked Indirect Non- Totalbilingual bilingual bilingual
bilingualfunding funding funding funding
State $1.7 million $0 $0District $2.96 million $0 $0Federal
$490,000 $9.55 million $1.58 millionTotal $4.54 million $9.55 million
$1.58 million $15.67 million
Source: Arizona Department of Education/Tucson Citizen