NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 10, 2007

The number of students in special English classes is rapidly rising during a period when overall public school enrollment in kindergarten through high school education is slightly declining, says Jack Martin, director of special projects at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).


  • Over the ten-year period up to 2005, the number of students registered in Limited English Proficiency (LEP) programs increased by more than 1.2 million students.
  • That was an increase of more than 38 percent and took the total number of students in these programs to nearly 4.5 million persons.
  • Over the same period, total enrollment nationwide dropped by nearly half a million students -- a one percent decline.

These programs to assist non-English speakers adapt to the educational environment in public schools are costly to local taxpayers and an added fiscal burden at the national level, says Martin.  In addition, the expenditures may absorb resources that otherwise would be available for native-English speaking students.

In addition, while public schooling may not, by law, be denied to the children of illegal immigrants, the additional costs of providing English language instruction has not been addressed by the legal system, says Martin.  As such, it remains an open issue as to whether a school system has discretion to restrict LEP enrollment to only students who are U.S. citizens and legal residents.

Source: Jack Martin, "Limited English Proficiency Enrollment And Rapidly Rising Costs," Federation for American Immigration Reform, August 2007.

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