The Case of Horne v. Flores

On June 25, 2009, in Horne v. Flores, the Supreme Court overturned a federal court injunction that required the Arizona legislature to adopt massive new spending programs to teach English in the public schools to foreign-born students. The Supreme Court remanded the case back to the lower courts to consider four factors that the court contends were not properly examined: a change in methodology for teaching ELLs, enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), an increase in funding for ELL programs in Arizona and progress that has been made with ELL programs in the Nogales school district, which is where the case originated.

The Warren Institute, together with the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Multicultural Education, Training and Advocacy Inc., Latino Justice, Public Advocates and Education Law Center, joined as amici curiae in Horne v. Flores and the consolidated case Speaker of the Arizona House v. Flores in support of Respondents.  Amici made the point in their brief that Congress did not intend for a state's compliance under NCLB to substitute for its compliance under the Equal Educational Opportunities Act which requires schools to take appropriate action to overcome language barriers.   In addition, the Warren Institute examined the number of English Language Learners (ELLs) enrolled in California’s public schools who are not “counted” in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) accountability system, particularly among schools and districts with ELLs that met NCLB objectives, and compared ELL proficiency rates with whites in those schools and districts.           

Please click here to view the Warren Institute's research and analysis on accountability for ELL students in California.            


Warren Institute Collaborates with California Alternative Education Research Project on Issue Brief Examining State’s Continuation High Schools

In April 2008, the California Alternative Education Research Project released a brief that summarizes findings from a year-long descriptive study of continuation high schools in California.  Continuation high schools are the cornerstone of California’s drop-out prevention strategy for at-risk youth. The study’s authors conclude, nevertheless, that these schools of last resort may be the last schools ever attended by thousands of California students because they are not getting the academic support services they need to succeed. The brief was presented at the 2008 annual meeting Education Writers Association and is the first in a series of reports investigating alternative schools for at-risk youth in California conducted jointly by the John W. Gardner Center at Stanford University, the National Center for Urban School Transformation at San Diego State University, and WestEd. 

Jorge Ruiz de Velasco, Director of Education for the Warren Institute is lead author of the Issue Brief, which was the subject of a special seminar for legislative staff in Sacramento hosted by Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) in July 2008. The Warren Institute will collaborate in the California Alternative Education Research Project going forward. 

Please click here to view the Issue Brief.


Getting Beyond the Facts: Systemic Reform of K-12 Education Policy in California

"Getting Beyond the Facts" is a Warren Institute effort to provide research-based policy recommendations to reform California's K-12 school finance system. It builds on the new research generated by the Stanford Institute for Research on Education Policy and Practice in the "Getting Down to Facts" (GDTF) studies released in March 2007. Informed by the GDTF studies, Getting Beyond the Facts has produced concrete, politically-viable education policy recommendations.

"Getting Beyong the Facts: Reforming California School Finance" proposes a simpler, fairer and more coherent system of school finance that is responsive to student needs and regional costs.  Noting that California’s school finance system has become so unwieldy and irrational that basic issues of fairness and institutional design can no longer be addressed, the brief proposes a new framework in which issues of equity, adequacy and local flexibility can be clearly debated and thoughtfully resolved. Further, with substantial new money for education projected to become available over the next five years, the brief argues that now is the time to plan the uses of those funds and that significant improvement in the finance system can be achieved with modest new investment. 

Please click here to view the Warren Institute's April 2008 Issue Brief on school finance reform.


School Desegregation after Seattle/Louisville

The Warren Institute has begun to develop a major new set of projects for policy-oriented research and advocacy around the issue of school desegregation. This research and policy initiative is connected to a nation-wide collaboration of legal scholars, social scientists and advocates who seek to understand the implications of the 2007 United States Supreme Court decision in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education. The Warren Institute has concentrated its efforts in California, a state where only 34% of white students attend multiracial schools despite the fact that non-white children constitute 70% of the state’s K-12 public school enrollment. Our current research explores the use of voluntary race-conscious school assignment policies to achieve school integration through an in-depth study of the Berkeley Unified School District student assignment plan, which illuminates how the plan works and why it works to produce schools that are racially integrated without considering the race-ethnicity of individual students. 


NCLB: Using Implementation and Reform of NCLB to Design Policy and Practice for Vulnerable Youth

This initiative was made possible thanks to the generous support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Warren Institute's research initiative entitled No Child Left Behind: Using Implementation and Reform of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to Design Policy and Practice for Vulnerable Student was an effort to develop and advance research-based proposals for creating educational accountability systems at the federal, state and district levels that advance the twin goals of educational attainment and achievement. Our goal is to improve the capacity of civil rights and educational advocacy organizations to engage effectively in public and legislative debates about reforming NCLB's accountability mechanisms. We also aim to increase public awareness and advocacy group focus on policy measures that promise to expand incentives for school officials to more effectively prepare students for college and work and improve on-time graduation rates for all students, with a particular emphasis on helping minority and other vulnerable and at-risk students; and, increase the ability of high schools undergoing effective reform to successfully deliver services to at-risk and vulnerable students without undue interference from federal and state governments.

As part of this three-year research initiative, the Warren Institute developed a set of recommendations for improving the implementation of the NCLB Act, while attempting to maintain its focus on underserved students. The recommendations can be accessed here: Key Reforms Under the No Child Left Behind Act---The Civil Rights Perspective: Research-Based Recommendations to Improve NCLB.

The No Child Left Behind Act: How Does It Affect High School Reform, October 14, 2005

Robert Balfanz, et al.- No Child Left Behind and Reforming the Nation’s Lowest Performing High Schools: Help, Hindrance, or Unrealized Potential?
Darling-Hammond, Linda - No Child Left Behind and High School Reform
No Child Left Behind and High School Reform Executive Summary
Hawley, Willis D. - NCLB and Continuous School Improvement
NCLB and Continuous School Improvement Executive Summary
Rumberger, Russell W. - The Limitations of the No Child Left Behind Act as a Strategy for Improving High School Graduation Rates

Key Reforms Under the No Child Left Behind Act: The Civil Rights Perspective, November 16-17, 2006

Koretz, Daniel - The Pending Reauthorization of NCLB: An Opportunity to Rethink the Basic Strategy
Kornhaber, Mindy L. - Beyond Standardization in School Accountability
Linn, Robert L. - Toward a More Effective Definition of Adequate Yearly Progress
Liu, Goodwin - Interstate Inequality in Educational Opportunity
Snow, Catherine, et al.- Promises and Pitfalls:Implications of No Child Left Behind for Defining, Assessing, and Serving English Language Learners
Sunderman, Gail L. and Gary Orfield - Massive Responsibilities and Limited Resources: The State Response to NCLB
Mintrop, Heinrich - Low-performing Schools Programs and State Capacity Requirements: Meeting the NCLB Educational Goals


Rethinking Rodriguez: Education as a Fundamental Right

Rethinking Rodriguez: Education as a Fundamental Right was made possible thanks to the generous support from the Rosenberg Foundation.

Background and Purpose: Education as a Fundamental Right

In its early stages, the Warren Institute convened an interdisciplinary working group entitled “Rethinking Rodriguez: Education as a Fundamental Right.” From these discussions, the Warren Institute commissioned research and research-based policy papers to explore four clusters of inquiry that the working group deliberations identified as centrally important.

What would it would mean to make education a fundamental right today—that is, a right belonging to all children, protected by an enforceable guarantee of “adequacy” or “equality” or both. The Warren Institute has not focused narrowly on mapping a litigation strategy for overruling San Antonio v. Rodriguez, the 1973 Supreme Court case declaring that education is not a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution. Instead, the Warren Institute has considered how to give meaningful content to the concept of education as a fundamental right and has examined how it can serve as an organizing principle for novel constitutional, legislative and policy initiatives not limited to overruling Rodriguez, and considered as a goal for research and advocacy at the national level, at the state level, or both.

Rodriguez Research Abstracts