Arizona Horizon Banner

October 5, 2009

Host: Ted Simons

English Language Learners Lawsuit

  |   Video
  • A new motion has been filed in the long legal battle over the adequacy of Arizona’s educational programs for English Language Learners. Tim Hogan, an attorney for the plaintiffs in Flores v. Arizona, discusses his motion for an evidentiary hearing in the case.
  • Tim Hogan - Attorney for the plaintiffs in Flores v. Arizona
Category: Education

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The U.S. district court that ordered state officials to adequately fund programs for English language learners has been asked to decide if that order is still relevant. In June the court remanded the case back to justice -- district court, and just last week an attorney representing parents of ELL students asked the court for an evidentiary hearing. At issue is whether or not circumstances in the case have changed since it was filed in 1992 on behalf of ELL students in the Nogales unified district. In 2000 the U.S. district court ruled that Arizona was violating the federal equal educational opportunities act because state spending for the special needs of ELL students was arbitrary and not related to the actual costs of ELL instruction. Since then, state funding has increased and the method of teaching the ELL students has changed. The court is being asked to decide if that's enough to satisfy its order. Here now is Tim Hogan, executive director of the Arizona center for law in the public interest, an attorney for the plaintiffs in this case, known for a long time as Flores v. Arizona. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Tim Hogan: Thank you.

Ted Simons: This has been a long time. Give us a capsule summary, if you can, if you will, of where we've been so far.

Tim Hogan: It is a long time, I'm not sure there's anything like a capsule that captures it all. But as you noted, the case was filed in 1992, alleging that the state was failing to comply with the equal educational opportunities act, which by the way says that states have to take -- and the key here is appropriate action. Those are the words Congress used -- to help children overcome language barriers so they can participate equally in instructional programs in public schools. So it's not just about learning English, it's about participating equally in the instructional programs, and of course you've got to learn English to be able to do that. The district court judge found in our favor in 2000, and eventually the defendants in the case, the legislature, superintendent Tom Horne, claimed circumstances had so changed since 2000, that it was no longer in the public interest to require them to comply with the judgment to adequately fund these programs. The Supreme Court decided to accept their appeal last January, it was argued in April, and as you noted, the Supreme Court issued its decision in a 5-4 split among the justices in late June of this year. And basically the Supreme Court said, well funding really isn't the issue. What you should be focusing on, district court judge, is the quality of the programming. And whether the programming is effective. And when you do that, after we send the case back to you, you should be looking at a number of factors. Increases in funding, a new methodology for instructing English language learners, no child left behind, and then also reforms that have occurred in the Nogales school district, which is where the plaintiffs come from.

Ted Simons: And you're saying those changes still aren't enough.

Tim Hogan: That's right. To the extent that the defendants in this case, the legislature and Mr. Horn are asking on equitable grounds to get out from complying with the funding judgment and saying it really no longer applies to them, you have to also demonstrate the state itself is complying with the equal educational opportunities act on a statewide basis. And we're saying they're not. By virtue of a number of changes that the state has imposed on school districts throughout the state.

Ted Simons: Didn’t-- If I read correctly, it sounded like a Supreme Court was saying didn't seem all that excited about the state mandate. Putting this on to the entire state. It sound as if they were saying that it's Nogales as opposed to the state. Did I read that correctly?

Tim Hogan: You did. Except for the very last part of this decision said that this order should be the focus of this proceeding on remand should be on Nogales. Unless the court, the district court, concludes that the state itself is committing violations of the equal educational opportunities act. That's exactly what we intend to show, among other things, when this case is heard again by the district court judge.

Ted Simons: One of those violations you claim is segregation in terms of the immersion program for English language learners. Segregation a pretty powerful word when it comes to education. How are you seeing that?

Tim Hogan: The state in 2006, the legislature enacted a law that requires English language learners to actually be segregated, at least for their first year, and then a task force decided to extend that to later years for English language learners. Those students are to be segregated from the rest of the student population, for the purposes of learning English language development for four hours during the school day. Well that's over two-thirds of the typical school day. And so at the elementary school level for young kids particularly, because they're assigned to a single teacher for the entire day, those kids are going to be segregated from the rest of the school environment and the rest of the children in the school for basically the entire school day while they're being taught English. And not being provided much access to the academic curriculum. Courts have said it's OK to segregate kids temporarily for the purposes of teaching them English. We're saying here even though there's no research to speak of that supports this four-hour model, we're willing to give that a chance to work for first-year English language learners. But if children aren't reclassifying and becoming English proficient by the end of the first year, you can't segregate them any longer. The stigma attached to that is going to last their entire lives. We're already hearing that from the field, that these kids are going to be labeled and not succeed academically.

Ted Simons: Separate from that, superintendent Horne has figures that seem to show kids reclassified as proficient, that number is 30% higher since the program started. That's pretty tangible stuff there. How do you respond?

Tim Hogan: We've only got one year of data. We went from classification rate of about 22% to a classification rate of 28%. For the year that the models were implemented. Which is just this last year. We're now in the second year of implementing these models. So that converts to a 30% increase in the reclassification rate. But without some data going forward about whether these kids are just being taught to pass the proficiency test and whether they're going to end up going back into the English language learner program, whether they're going to succeed academically, whether they've been taught enough academic English to succeed academically, nobody knows because the data isn't there yet. And actually, we've made that point in the filing we made in court last week, that you've got to wait and see what happens here before you can draw any conclusions about the effectiveness of these models.

Ted Simons: How long do you wait? How much data do you need?

Tim Hogan: Well, on that score, to determine whether the four-hour model for even the first year is having a salutary effect, you've got to wait at least three years. Because these kids get tested for two years after they exit the English language learner program. And so after two more years, you'll know whether or not they're being tested as proficient our not, whether the English is staying with them and whether they're doing well on the the AIMS test. Comparable to their peers, because there's no reason to expect these children to perform any differently than their peers on the AIMS test, if they're -- if they've learned English.

Ted Simons: I know superintendent Horne and those in the legislature that see things his way say that things have improved in Nogales, whether it's money that's been added, it's no child left behind accountability that's been added, just the general Nogales district doing things to change what was 17 long years ago, there are improvements, things are getting better. So this is not necessarily needed. The court is getting involved is not necessarily needed. That’s what they’re saying. Why are they wrong?

Tim Hogan: There's no question, and we conceded that Nogales was doing better, particularly at the lower grade levels. Kids were learning English faster, and they were performing better academically. But as you moved up in grade levels at Nogales, and this hasn't changed, performance dropped off significantly. To where even the high school was rated by the Arizona department of education as one of the poorer performers in the state of Arizona for English language learners. Something like 550th out of 600 and some schools in the state. That's not good. The Supreme Court looked at that and said well that could be for a variety of reasons. Gangs, drug abuse, and things like that. The fact remains performance is not uniform across all levels in the district.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Tim Hogan: Thank you.

The Arizona We Want

  |   Video
  • Dr. Lattie Coor, Chairman and CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona, talks about “The Arizona We Want,” a new citizen’s agenda to shape Arizona’s future.
  • Dr. Lattie Coor - Chairman and CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona
Category: Business/Economy

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Before we can shape the future of Arizona, we have to decide what kind of Arizona we want. That's why the center for the future of Arizona commissioned a statewide Gallup poll of about 3600 residents. The center's chairman and CEO Lattie Coor is here to talk about how the results of the poll serve as a citizens' agenda. But first let's look at the survey release -- results released to community leaders last Friday at a breakfast meeting in Phoenix.

Sara Presler: What the Arizona we want report does is gives us that road map on how to get from there to here.

David Majure: Flagstaff mayor was part of a panel discussing how the Gallup Arizona poll will help us build the Arizona we want. Among the poll's broad findings, that Arizonans agree more than they disagree on a wide range of issues. That 36% of all Arizonans are attached and loyal to their communities. Citizens viewed the state's natural beauty and open spaces as its greatest asset. They are not satisfied with their elected leaders. Only 10% believe they represent their interests. Only 6% rate Arizona as very good for job opportunities. And only 11% say their community is a very good place for college graduates seeking a job.

Michael Crow: These individuals have unbelievable energy, unbelievable civic duty, commitment to community, commitment to success. They have certain views about the future.

David Majure: ASU president Michael crow says college students are disturbed by the world they're inheriting.

Michael Crow: It's like, you people that came before us, you've really soured the nest, and now they say, you know, please give us the broadest set of skills that we can possibly have so that we can fix what you have done. And it's -- we made -- the resentment levels are high, respect levels are low. Most of them, because of what Arizona represents as we saw in this poll, they want to stay. But they are disappointed by the civic discourse. Disappointed by the lack of leadership.

David Majure: The poll results are providing leadership. They were used to formulate an eight-point citizens' agenda, to create quality jobs for all Arizonans. Prepare Arizonans for the 21st century work force. Make Arizona the place to be for talented young people. Provide health insurance for all with payment assistance for those who need it. Protect Arizona's natural environment. Build a modern effective transportation system. Empower citizens and increase civic involvement. And foster citizen well-being and the sense of connection to one another.

Michael Crow: The most fantastic thing in this report is that this is not a bunch of results from a bunch of policy dweebs that have lined up and decided what they think Arizona should be. This is a legitimate, scientifically based sample of what Arizonans across every section, every sector, every ethnicity, every income level think Arizona can be.

Sara Presler: Good morning, my name is Sara Preslerr, the mayor for the city of Flagstaff. And I'm a policy dweeb. [LAUGHTER] But in all fairness, I'm very excited about this report for the Arizona that we want. Arizona has a strong tradition of being a wild spirit, and a streak of independence. And really communities that encompass energy and vitality, and value our families and our culture. It's important I think that we have this report, because what it does is it brings all of that energy, and all of that wildness and all of that independence together into a vision for our community.

Ron Shoopman: What we suffer from often is uncoordinated leadership, and that means we have to work better together. Not only uncoordinated leadership, but there are a couple other factors involved in leadership that aren't often brought up. First, we have to find a way to have civil discourse. If we don't do that, we're not going to come to the agreements we need. Second, we have to think about something called followership. There's another side to leadership, and there's a time for us as individuals to lead and there's a time to get in line between others and support them.

Sara Presler: It's very important that as Arizonans we're able to share our blueprints for success. And it's most important we flip those numbers. So instead of 10% believing in representative government, 90% believe in representative government and believe in their leaders. So it's an honor as mayor for the city of Flagstaff to be a part of this, but it's a greater honor for all of us to take this important data and use database decision making and not folk lore to make our decisions in the state of Arizona are.

Michael Crow: Don't listen to me. Don't listen to me. Don't care what I have to say. Take whatever I have to say back to zero. What I say doesn't make any difference. The people have spoken. If you don't want to line up with the people and you're a leader or a politician, get out of the way. [APPLAUSE]

Ted Simons: Joining me now to talk about the Arizona we want is Lattie Coor, chairman and CEO of the center for the future of Arizona. Good to have you back on the program.

Lattie Coor: Thank you. Good to be with you.

Ted Simons: Why do this study? What are you trying to accomplish with this?

Lattie Coor: It's kind of a classic management view of looking at an organization when an organization is out of kilter, you first of all define the problem as clearly as you can. Jim Collins said you confront the brutal facts. Secondly, go to your base. If you're a business, your base is your customers. The big three are kind of finding that out in the auto world right now. If you're a University, your base is your constituents -- parents, families, organizations that support you financially, the community. If you're a state, your base are the citizens. And that drove everything we did in this study. To say, what is it the citizens of Arizona really want? What are they aspiring to? What kind of Arizona do they want?

Ted Simons: And is that why instead of going to experts as so often think tanks or as you describe your group, a do tank tend to do, you're going to citizen, but would it not be wise as well to get those experts in there and get them going on problems maybe the citizenry can't see?

Lattie Coor: One of the things I think Gallup found most interesting about this project is that we did both. We took the Gallup poll that had been developed over years, first as a world poll, and then in 26 other cities around the United States funded by the Knight foundation. So we had a benchmark with which we could work. And they conducted that pool, that's the 3600 telephone votes that you mentioned earlier. But then we took five major issues that were the most dominant on the policy agenda that the experts and the activists and the lobbying groups and the interest groups had put on the table. Education, health care, job creation, infrastructure, and energy. And we asked as many of the 3600 respond tents to the telephone poll as we could to go out on to the web and take the web poll that chose among those issues. 831 did. So statistically valid, a very interesting subsample, and they in turn then gave us the chance to take how they felt about these issues and connect it with the larger kind of findings of the Gallup poll itself.

Ted Simons: Arizona's natural beauty. Everyone seems to love it, always have, looks like we always will. Public policy, leadership, not so pleased. Was that a surprise to you?

Lattie Coor: Neither were a surprise. The natural beauty and the beauty -- the connection people have to that, not a big surprise. But the depth of concern about leadership, about the economy, about basic Services that we have, the strength of that was a big surprise.

Ted Simons: And yet there seems to be a disconnect. I'm looking at this from a distance here, but I'm seeing people being elected over and over again and going to the state capitol, representing those who elected them, yet the survey seems to think no one likes anyone who has been elected.

Lattie Coor: If you look more deeply into the data it says take a look at your system. Is your system allowing the voice that we found -- this is a valid statistically complete voice of Arizonans. Does your system allow them to really be represented in a full way? If not, you better have a look at the system. In addition to the eight goals just listed, the data itself identified five major issues that need to be resolved, and the first of those was a government structure appropriate for Arizona's second century. So to look at it, how do you make it more representative, and leadership development, leadership selection. Not only an elected officials, but in general that can really help point the way to a successful future.

Ted Simons: Job creation, education, illegal immigration, these sorts competing globally among the issues mentioned in the report. They've been mentioned, people are responding, we know it's out there. What's next? Where do we go with this?

Lattie Coor: I think what we do now is say, here's a framework. It's very clear what citizens believe are the most important issues. And then there are specific things within those issues. Take education. They said two very clear things. First, make sure every graduate is either career ready, meaning fully certified for a career, or college ready. Fully eligible to enter college and succeed. And secondly, educate them to global standards. To national and international standards. Those are citizen voices asking that we take those steps. Well, then we set those in goals, and that's our plan, to now create a set of metrics, put them in the Arizona indicators project with the Morrison institute, have score cards as to how we're doing, and take each of these major goals as a picture of the Arizona we want and periodically report on how well we're doing toward accomplishing them. To do that, we need now to have organizations, current and new that would be created to align their agendas with these larger agendas. A strategic alliance.

Ted Simons: How do you get those alliances? How do you get them with civic and governmental leaders who often see these report and go, "that's a great idea" and never look back at it again?

Lattie Coor: It's kind of early to be overly enthusiastic. We just released this report last Friday. But already major leadership groups who have been part of the process, who were among our critical readers, almost 60 people read the early draft and made very substantial comments. Have already begun aligning their own agendas. We've seen major business leadership organizations already doing it. Others saying to us, how can we get in sync with this? How do we then start relating what our own commitment is to a coalition that has a larger goal? And what we've committed to do in the center is to create the “Arizona We Want” institute, our board at the center created it just two weeks ago to serve as the kind of quarterback of this endeavor, the keeper of the flame. Don't forget it, here it is. Here's how we measure it, here's how we go about trying collectively to work toward it and nurture those strategic alliances under each of the goals to accomplish it.

Ted Simons: Was there any thought to get out of the 501(c)3 territory and to start get can a little muscle behind it in terms of, if you don’t do something, we will, we'll get it on the ballot ourselves? Is that something that you're just holding close to the vest right now?

Lattie Coor: We don't think we're the one that should do that or needs to do that. But we do know in order for this to happen, it has to get beyond the 501(c)3 organizations. The ones that can get out and actively pursue goals. There are a number of organizations that are already equipped to do that. There are others that have begun thinking about ways they organize with the kind of legal opportunity to make that happen. If these goals are embraced as actively as citizens have said they should be, and we believe they can be, that muscle is going to be there. You heard in the strip leading up to this today, Michael Crow saying, this is the voice. If you're not with it, get out of the way. That's in essence what we think this process can lead to.

Ted Simons: The online poll, people can still vote on that?

Lattie Coor: Absolutely. In fact, we invite every viewer tonight every Arizonan, to go on to our website,, and take the poll. Take the very poll that is in this Gallup poll, and then you can assess your views against what your fellow citizens have said in this larger poll.

Ted Simons: Thank you so much for being here tonight. We appreciate it.

Lattie Coor: Thank you. My pleasure, Ted.