The Legislation and Figures
The lawsuit springs from the federal Equal Education Opportunities Act, which states that the State must work to ensure that students are able to overcome their linguistic differences. In Texas, the Act is manifested in school districts having to offer language instruction when there are more than 20 English language learners in the same grade. According to the information presented with the lawsuit, 17 per cent of the total 5 million public school students in the State of Texas can be classified as English language learners, most of which (90 per cent) are of a Hispanic background.
Less Students Transitioning out of Language Courses
Results from research shows that fewer of these students are successfully transitioning out of language learning courses. What makes matters worse is that the majority of them can no longer be considered recent immigrants, with 70 per cent of the total number of English learners having been in the country and the Texas educational system for at least five years. Around 56 per cent of long term English language learners from 3rd to 12th grade have not managed to advance even one level on language proficiency evaluations.
The legal conflict originated in 2006, when LULAC first sued Texas for the same reasons. LULAC was favoured by a lower court, but the ruling was reversed by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in 2010, when the Court stated that there was not enough information about the matter. The Court of Appeals did state that the performance of English language learners was very poor back then.
On that same Tuesday, Superintendent Dr. Brian Gottardy, from the North East Independent School District (mentioned in the lawsuit), released a statement arguing that they had not been served with the lawsuit yet. He added that they are deeply committed to education equality. Southwest Independent Schools District (also mentioned in the lawsuit) stated that they had not been served any documents related to the matter either, but that they also believed in equality of opportunities for students from all backgrounds.