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Saturday, September 1, 2012

US Government Pushes Back Against Arizona's Approach to Immigrants

If you were watching the Republican National Convention on the evening that Mitt Romney gave his acceptance speech, you may have noticed that as he came on the floor of the Convention Center shaking hands, he also pecked the cheek of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. She has led the charge against undocumented immigrants in her state, which of course lashes out at all Latinos in the state. Yesterday, however, as Reuters reports, the federal government pushed back a bit on the way in which Arizona was discriminating against kids in school who are not proficient in English.
Arizona has agreed to offer targeted reading and writing instruction to tens of thousands of public school students who were wrongly denied services under an English Language Learner program, the Justice Department said on Friday.
The settlement resolves a complaint filed with the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rightsand the Department of Justice that students had been incorrectly identified as fluent in English over the past five school years or prematurely moved out of the language assistance program.
"All students are entitled to equal opportunities, and this resolution will help to make sure Arizona students receive the education they deserve," Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary for the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, said in a statement announcing a settlement in the case.
This had always seemed like a very short-sighted policy from Arizona's perspective to try to save money by not giving children the skills they need to succeed. Economic success in this country depends in almost all cases on proficiency in English. The kids in school represent the next generation of workers and we all should want them as well educated generally and proficient in English more specifically as they can possibly be. Indeed, a recent Brookings Institution study suggests that a mismatch in education between workers and jobs can add as much as 2 percentage points to the unemployment rate in urban areas in the US.

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