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Tom Horne: $30 Million Can Be Saved (Slashed?) From Arizona's ELL Programs

If you live in Phoenix, you might want to drop by Senate Hearing Room 1 in the State Capitol at 2 p.m. tomorrow and hear Arizona Superintendent of Instruction Tom Horne explain how Arizona's program to teach English skills to English-language learners for a four-hour block each day can be implemented for about $9 million. This school year, the state spent $40 million on the program. I just got a press releasing saying he'll explain in his annual "state of education" speech why the program needs $30 million less of taxpayers' money for the 2009-10 school year.

Some Arizona school superintendents with large populations of ELLs were unhappy they didn't receive any of the $40 million, according to reporting I did on this issue for Education Week last May. So I guess the silver lining in that cloud for them is that Horne's proposed cuts to the program for next school year won't change their funding level. To be fair, I should note that since 2001, school districts have been getting $365 per ELL student in addition to the standard per-pupil amount. The $40 million distributed statewide was on top of that foundation.

The backdrop to all this is that Horne has taken the issue of whether the federal courts should interfere in telling Arizona that it's not adequately paying for ELL programs to the U.S. Supreme Court. The highest court in the land expects to hear the case, Horne v. Flores, by April.

Update on Feb. 12. The East Valley Tribune of Phoenix has more on this.

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