Miriam Flores had dreams of becoming a doctor. But English was not her first language, and as a result, school did not come easy to her. In 1992, while Miriam was in the third grade, the school district in Nogales, Arizona told Miriam’s mom (also named Miriam Flores) that her daughter wouldn’t pass third grade that year. Teachers said she wasn’t paying attention, and that she often spoke to other students in class. This seemed unlike her child, so Miriam questioned her daughter. The young Miriam, whose family only spoke Spanish at home, explained to her mother that when she was talking, she was simply asking the other students what the teacher was saying, because she didn’t understand the language.
When Miriam’s mom explained this to the school district, she was told it wasn’t their problem that her daughter wasn’t learning the language properly. Yes, they were obligated under the ESL program (English as a Second Language, now changed to ELL, English Language Learners) to teach these students. But without proper funding from the state, there was a shortage of supplies and materials to teach non-English speaking kids. Miriam’s mom realized the injustice of the situation, and ultimately sued on behalf of her daughter and other students in the same situation.
Read more about the Supreme Court case here.
Sandra Del Valle discusses bilingual education and the impact of the Flores case.
A bilingual interview with parent Miriam Flores on her battle for equal education.
Mrs. Flores asserted that a lack of educational options for English-language learners in Nogales, Arizona results in students not realizing their potential. She wants everyone to have the same opportunities to create a better life. English interpretation by Veneranda Aguirre.
Tim Hogan discusses the issues at stake in Flores v. State of Arizona.
Tim Hogan served as chief counsel, representing the Flores family, in the case of Horne v. Flores. Mr. Hogan is the Executive Director of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest (ACLPI), focusing primarily on issues relating to public school finance, utilities, and campaign finance reform.
Interviews By: Nadya Shah, Lee Wang & Jill Cordes