Original URL: http://www.dailystar.com/dailystar/news/5335.php

Judge asked to enforce English teaching rules
By Howard Fischer

PHOENIX - An attorney for some parents of schoolchildren wants a federal judge to hold the state in contempt for failing to adopt rules on what people need to know to teach English - rules that were promised to be in place nearly three years ago.

Tim Hogan is asking U.S. District Court Judge Alfredo Marquez to order the state Board of Education to enact the long-delayed rules. He also wants daily fines until the state complies.

State School Superintendent Tom Horne acknowledged Thursday that the state has not complied with the 2001 deadline. The rules set standards for the qualifications, background and training of teachers who provide English instruction to students from homes where that is not the predominant language.

But Horne insisted he has been working on it since he took office a year ago and hopes to have the rules ready for board action next month.

Hogan, however, said he wants court action.

"That's the kind of stuff I've been hearing for 2 1/2 years," he said. "You know, there's a point at which you can write only so many threatening letters."

He said the parents who brought the original lawsuit have been more than patient. They first went to court in 1992 and it took until 2000 to actually get the state to reach a settlement.

The case revolves around federal laws mandating that states provide adequate instruction to teach students English.

According to the parents, the $150 per student the state provided to teach English was insufficient.

Marquez agreed, calling that $150 figure "arbitrary and capricious, saying the state "has failed to follow through with practices, resources and personnel to transform theory into reality."

Rather than fight the ruling, attorneys for the state agreed to study how much money really is necessary. In the interim, lawmakers boosted the funding to $340 a student.

A later agreement obligated the state to determine the training, background and qualification necessary to teach students of low English proficiency. That was worded to comply with Proposition 203, which was approved by voters in 2000 and replaces most bilingual education programs with English immersion.

Hogan said those rules were supposed to be ready for the state board of education to enact in July 2001.

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