NEW PROPOSAL FOR FUNDING OF ENGLISH IMMERSION
Governor, Legislators Work Together on Plan that Meets Court Order
Governor Janet Napolitano today released details of a new legislative proposal that
will allow Arizona students to learn to read and write in English.
"I strongly believe that to be successful and competitive, children must learn to read, write and
speak English," said Governor Napolitano. "At the end of the last session, Republican leaders in
the state legislature asked me to come up with a proposal that does that, and does it in a way that
will satisfy the court. This bill meets that test."
The proposal, crafted by the Governor and state legislators using expert research in the fields of
education and English immersion, creates the English Language Acquisition Program (ELAP) as
a consistent, accountable method for schools and school districts to administer English
instruction. The new proposed legislation eliminates what the existing mechanism for English
Language Learner (ELL) funding from what is commonly referred to as the "Group B weight"
funding, replacing it with a dedicated and transparent per-student funding mechanism.
In January of 2000, a federal court found (in Flores v. Arizona) that the state had effectively
violated the Equal Education Opportunity Act by failing to fund, implement and enforce
effective programs to help students to learn to speak and write in English. In a consent decree
the following June, the state agreed to make necessary changes and to meet the court's
During this most recent legislative session, and in spite of the fact that the Court had instructed
the state to "constitutionally fund" the minimum standards, a bill was sent to the Governor that
liberally funded administrative duties of the Arizona Department of Education but did nothing to
address long term funding issues permanently or constitutionally. Governor Napolitano vetoed
The Governor says that while the new bill addresses all those concerns, she remains open to
further input on the proposal. Legislators have scheduled hearings in Phoenix and Tucson that
will occur during the next month. In those hearings, parents, teachers, experts and administrators
will be asked to testify, and to give feedback that will help to fine-tune the proposal.
The Governor confirmed that - after the hearings, and after Republican leadership indicates
acceptance of the plan - she will call the Legislature into special session to pass English
language learners legislation, as well as to enact a corrected bill that provides a tax credit for
Arizona corporations that wish to donate to private schools.