Instigating a debate sure to raise partisan hackles in a time of crashing State budgets, national immigration rights controversy, and regional immigration reform on the US-Mexico border, Arizona now finds itself about to receive a ruling on the general issue of State's rights and the federal mandate that state education must include English language training.  Arizona is one state falling short in English proficiency, that despite increasing its training expenditures and programs.
 
The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in a case testing what states must do to comply with the federal law requiring public schools to teach children to speak English. Butting heads in the case are politicians, federal laws, the power of the federal courts to enforce judicial orders, and the power of state legislatures to decide how to spend taxpayer money.
 
The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in a case testing what states must do to comply with the federal law requiring public schools to teach children to speak English. Butting heads in the case are politicians, federal laws, the power of the federal courts to enforce judicial orders, and the power of state legislatures to decide how to spend taxpayer money.
 
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In 2000, a federal judge declared that the state of Arizona was in violation of the federal law. The judge said the state had failed to put in place trained teachers and programs reasonably calculated to teach English.
 
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Since then, the state says it has built more schools, hired more teachers, shrunk the size of classes and doubled the amount spent per pupil on English language learning.
 
But the state and the courts have remained at loggerheads. Most recently, a federal appeals court ruled that the state's overall increase in general education spending and management improvements in Nogales did not excuse the state from its obligation to develop and fund an appropriate English language learners program. When the state's Democratic attorney general decided not to appeal, the Republican speaker of the House and the Republican president of the Senate hired their own lawyers, appealed, and to the surprise of almost everyone, the Supreme Court agreed to take a look at the case.