Feds Find Arizona Violates Civil Rights Of English Learners

PHOENIX -- Federal officials have concluded that Arizona is violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act by shortchanging thousands of students whose first language is not English -- and unless changes are made, the state could lose federal education funding.

The Arizona Republic reports that one complaint alleges the Arizona Department of Education has reclassified "many thousands" of children as proficient in English even though tests indicate they aren't.

The second complaint says the state eliminated two questions from its home-language survey in 2009. The result was that students who are eligible for special English-language services "are not being served because they are not being identified."

The Arizona Department of Education is also under investigation for supposed discrimination against teachers who are not native English speakers.

According to the Arizona Republic:

Tom Horne, state superintendent of public instruction, said Thursday that the state Department of Education is working with federal investigators on the home-language survey.

"We're not going to change it back, but we're negotiating with them," he said. "We won't change it back, but we might make changes that will satisfy their needs and our needs."