About 15 years ago, the Center for Law in the Public Interest convinced a federal judge that the state should equalize funding for all Arizona public school districts. As a result, today every public school district receives a minimum average of $8,500 per student, and that was supposed to help districts better educate students. Now the Center wants another federal judge to suspend the AIMS graduation requirement for English Language Learners until funding reaches some undefined level of "adequacy."
Arizona taxpayers currently spend about $1.4 billion to educate 161,000 ELL students. That works out to an average of $8,700 per pupil, which is on par with taxpayer subsidies for college students.
At this point, it is legitimate to question the assumption that more money will lead to better education outcomes. Measures that improve accountability, such as vouchers and nationally norm-referenced tests, will help ensure valuable public money spent on ELL programs achieves the goal of providing a solid education.
-Robbie Sherwood: "Federal court asked to waive AIMS test for English learners"
-Arizona Department of Education: Annual Report of the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction: Fiscal Year 2003-2004
-Vicki Murray: "Learning English involves more than money"
-Arizona Department of Education: 2004-2005 enrollment