UPDATE: Judge concludes Ariz. hearing on English learning

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UPDATE:

PHOENIX -- A hearing in federal court in Tucson on the adequacy of funding of Arizona school programs for students learning English is over but a ruling is not expected before February.

U.S. District Judge Raner Collins took the case under advisement after an 11-day hearing that finished Friday. He's expected to rule after attorneys submit legal papers under deadline to extend into late January.

The case now concerns funding to implement a 2006 state law that revamps English Language Learning programs. The law was enacted in response to earlier court orders in the 16-year-old class-action lawsuit.

A key component of the law is its requirement to use new instruction models. Those models feature a mandate for four-hour instruction blocks in English learning.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

ORIGINAL REPORT:

PHOENIX -- A federal judge will begin a lengthy hearing Monday to take another look at the adequacy and funding of school programs for students learning English.

The hearing being held in Tucson by U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins is scheduled to last until Nov. 13.

Depending on Collins' eventual ruling, the issue could be thrust back before the Legislature at a time when the state is facing budget problems.

The hearing comes 16 years after critics of Arizona's funding for English Language Learning programs filed a class-action lawsuit. Eight years into the case, another judge ruled in 2000 that the programs and their funding are inadequate.

The Legislature then took several steps that culminated in 2006 with the enactment of a law that requires school districts to use state-approved instruction models.

At one point in the case, Collins imposed $21 million in fines against the state. Those fines were erased on appeal.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)