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Cutting to the Chase

April 21, 2009

So yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court heard Thomas C. Horne, Superintendent, Arizona Public Instruction v. Miriam Flores, et al*.  This is a case wherein the Arizona school district is trying to avoid educating it’s population because most of them speak Spanish.  They argue that it would be cost-prohibative to spend more than  $450 per student (seriously–that is what they are spending after losing two lawsuits) to teach them English. Instead, they would rather NOT teach them English and then have them sit in classes they don’t understand for 13 years or until they drop out from boredom, whatever comes first.  You can get a smarter recap from an actual lawyer if that makes you feel better.

So here’s the thing: this has already been solved.  Lau v. Nichols (in 1973) determined that it is a civil right for students to receive an education they understand.  So unless we decide to educate in the languages of the world, we need to teach everyone English, which is what we do.  And we made it law in the Equal Education Opportunities Act of 1974.

So it would seem we could have skipped this particular argument at the SCOTUS.  I just hope those wacky conservatives on the bench re-affirm that we do indeed intend to educate everyone.  That is what makes America great.

*Let me add that the US Supreme Court website is really lame.  It looks like it was designed in  about 1992.  If I were web-techy I’d redesign that thing pro bono. And I didn’t even take HS Latin.

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