Obama Administration Files Amicus Brief in Arizona ELL Case

Last Updated: May 05, 2009

This article appeared in the April 2009 Rural Policy Matters.

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The politics surrounding Arizona’s long-running Flores English-Language Learner (ELL) lawsuit continue to heat up in advance of its hearing before the United States Supreme Court. The new Arizona governor, Republican Jan Brewer, has reversed the gubernatorial position on the suit and aligned with the state legislature and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, who have held throughout the various court actions that Arizona is in compliance with federal laws requiring “appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation by its students in its instructional programs.”
Brewer, who is completing the unfinished term of Janet Napolitano (now working for the Obama administration), has threatened legal action against the state attorney general who supports the plaintiff position in the case and who has already briefed the Supreme Court that the legislature’s ELL programs are not sufficient to comply with federal law.
The Obama administration has also submitted a friend of the court brief siding with the plaintiffs and stating that the federal court ruling in the case correctly ordered that state ELL programs be adequately funded. Some amicus briefs submitted in the case support the importance of adequate funding for education while others argue funding makes little difference. Legal scholars have pointed out that while no level of funding will guarantee students’ success, an inadequate level of funding will guarantee failure.
Read more:
News coverage of the Flores case:
Amicus brief filed by the Obama Administration:
Read more from the April 2009 Rural Policy Matters.