AZ to Teachers: Take Your Accents and Ethnic Studies Outta Here

By Julianne Hing Apr 30, 2010

It’s officially turned into hate on Arizona week. But only because they can’t stop giving us more reasons to be angry. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The Arizona Department of Education recently began telling school districts that teachers whose spoken English it deems to be heavily accented or ungrammatical must be removed from classes for students still learning English. State education officials say the move is intended to ensure that students with limited English have teachers who speak the language flawlessly. But some school principals and administrators say the department is imposing arbitrary fluency standards that could undermine students by thinning the ranks of experienced educators.

The Dept of Ed., under No Child Left Behind, says that everyone who teaches English learner students must be fluent in English, but it’s up to states to set standards and define "fluency." For Arizona, that means unaccented American English, though I personally know plenty of literate, learned, fully fluent English speakers who took it up as a second language. (And does no one remember George W. Bush’s very public struggle with American English? Would anyone want him teaching English?) I have to wonder if they’d pressure a school teacher who happened to have a British or Australian accent to get rid of their accent like they did Karla Campillo-Soto, a kindergarten teacher in Phoenix. As if that weren’t enough, here’s the text from HB2281, another that Arizona’s legislature recently passed:

HB 2281 prohibits a school district or charter school from including courses or classes that either promote the overthrow of the United States government or promote resentment toward a race or class of people.

Furthermore, any curriculum that might be "designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group" or "advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals" would be forbidden. The translation is that ethnic studies classes are a threat, and to be outlawed. Combine that with Texas’s decision to excise whole portions of history from their textbooks, and the presence and struggles of people of color in this country may soon be all but obliterated from this country’s collective consciousness. Oh, wait… Photo: Creative Commons/MaraudersMap