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.
Click here to learn more about Miriam Flores.