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Horne v. Flores: Statement on the Decision of the U.S. Supreme Court

A short statement from CRP Co-directors about the impact of the Flores decision.

We deeply regret the 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court today in the Horne v. Flores case, which reversed the previous decisions of lower federal courts upholding minimum standards and necessary resources for the education of the large population of English language learners in the Arizona public schools. In a nation where one of five students is now Latino, and there are massive inequalities in educational opportunities and outcomes, this is another significant step in the narrowing of civil rights by the Roberts Court.

The decision greatly increases the barriers for Latino and other language minority students in winning resources for their children's education, and it also narrows the meaning of the Equal Educational Opportunity Act. The EEOA requires states "to take appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation by its students in its instructional programs." The federal district court in Arizona -- a state with profound divisions over the rights of immigrants and students whose home language is not English -- had concluded that the state had systematically refused to meet this standard. In its decision, the Supreme Court overturns these judgments and sets new standards for implementing not only this law but also other cases that would require orders about funding educational programs to produce equal opportunity. The Court has tilted the field strongly in favor of states rights, multiplied the procedural barriers to plaintiffs seeking remedies, and [the majority has] made dubious educational conclusions on two extremely controversial issues. Finding that structured English immersion is superior to other approaches and that money has little value in producing equal education conflict directly, we believe, with the weight of research evidence. That the Court made a decision like this, which greatly strengthens the state at the cost of diminishing the rights of Latino students in the state (Arizona has perhaps the most harsh and polarized racial climate in the nation over these issues), is profoundly unfortunate.

-Patricia G├índara and Gary Orfield, CRP Co-directors

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