MALDEF loses in Fifth Circuit
Wed March 24, 2010 10:27 pm

This is a depressing result, and, I think, one that is dead wrong. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court ruling that the State of Texas had failed to educate middle and high school English Language Learner students. The Court acknowledged that student performance was “alarming” but essentially punted the ball back to the trial court to determine the cause of student failure and the appropriate remedy. The Court directed that individual school districts be added to the lawsuit to determine “which entities may be violating the rights of ELL students under the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974.”

So a possible result is that school districts will get sued. Oh, that’s really going to help solve the problem. They’re already living off their reserve funds because the state isn’t funding them adequately. Now they’re going to have to pay damages.

I don’t see how there can be any doubt as to where the problem lies. The State is where the buck stops for the responsibility of educating students. Here’s Article VII, Section 1 of the Texas Constitution:

A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.

I don’t see how it can be plainer. IT SHALL BE THE DUTY OF THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an EFFICIENT SYSTEM of public free schools. If the schools aren’t teaching kids to speak English, that isn’t the school districts’ fault. It’s the Legislature’s fault, the state’s fault. The resources for education come from the state. The direction comes from the state. The monitoring comes from the state.

This case is now a hopeless mess. How is the trial court going to go through a thousand or so school districts trying to find out why ELL isn’t working? Impossible. A truly stupid decision.

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