Although this is an important change, I think we must pause for a moment to think about the lives already affected by this most recent denial of services. Most gutting for me is the thought that the students denied English support, and forced to "sink or swim," may have come to assume that the problem or deficiency was their own, and not that of the government and school system that purported to serve them. Their teachers, too, judging themselves, and evaluated based on the all-English standardized testing of students who were not really proficient in English, have likely been profoundly affected.
This is the second successful intervention by the Departments of Education and Justice on behalf of Arizona's English learners. In 2009, then Superintendent of Education Tom Horne had reduced the Home Language Survey from three questions to one. The Home Language Survey determines whether newly enrolling students will be tested for English proficiency (by eliciting from parents or guardians information about the child's language use and language(s) used in the home.) Following the reduction to one question (what is the primary language spoken by the child?), the State's English Learner rolls dropped by a third (33,000) to less than 100,000.
Although many of us are quite frustrated with the Obama Administration's educational policies, we can take a small bit of comfort in these civil rights efforts. More work by the Educational and Justice Departments remains to be done in Arizona, in particular relating to the types of English Language services provided.
I would love to hear news from other states!