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 children.”
TUSD’s average base support level for students is about $2,520 annually. The figure for bilingual students is about $3,393 annually.
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 bilingual programs.
“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 board.
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 programs includes:
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 million allocation.
TITLE VII: Intended for limited-English-proficient students and bilingual programs.
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 literacy program.
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 allocation.
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 Education
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