Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Cost of Educating Limited English Proficient Students in Nevada Soars to $730 Million Annually

Limited English Enrollment has Grown 15-Fold Since 1988, Finds New Report from FAIR

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While Nevada's struggling public schools face additional crippling budget cuts, the state now spends more than $730 million a year on education for Limited English Proficient (LEP) students, finds a new study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). According to the report, English Learners and Immigration: A Case Study of Clark and Washoe Counties, Nevada, as of the 2008-2009 school year, 78,732 Nevada public school children were classified as LEP, constituting 18 percent of enrollment in the state. This is 15 times the number of LEP students who were enrolled in Nevada public schools in the 1988-1989 school year, when only 5,173 LEP students were reported. Nevada now ranks 4th in the nation in the percentage of LEP students in its educational system.

According to the report, Nevada schools spend an average of $9,273 a year to educate each LEP student, compared with $7,133 – 30 percent more than the per pupil cost for students who are fluent in English. The bulk of the costs are absorbed by the taxpayers of Clark and Washoe Counties, where 94 percent of Nevada's LEP students attend school.

In addition to the direct costs to taxpayers, Nevada children face a loss of educational resources as the state copes with a rapidly increasing population of non-English-speakers. Unlike most states, Nevada does not allocate funds specifically earmarked for LEP education. Thus, the additional costs for LEP students come out of the general education budget.

"Nevada provides a case study of the real world consequences of policies that ignore the impact of mass immigration on American society," noted Dan Stein, president of FAIR. "Excessive immigration has a profound effect on almost every aspect of life in America. In places like Nevada, the influx of new immigrants – both legal and illegal – is exceeding the ability of the public school system to cope with the ever growing number of LEP students, while still meeting their obligations to provide quality education to all its children.

"The overburdening of public schools in Nevada and other states absorbing large numbers of new immigrants demonstrates the need to rethink our immigration policies," said Stein. "Overall levels of immigration must be reduced and both federal and local governments must make serious efforts to discourage illegal immigration."...

[Full Article]