May 12, 2010

(h/t Emma's Mom)

I've said it more than once...I know that bigotry and racism have always been around, but I really miss the days when people (especially in positions of power) were loath to be so open about their irrational hatred. Is it me, or is Arizona proudly embracing the notion of being the xenophobic capital of the country?

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, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The crackdown applies to classes deemed to have students who are learning English, mostly as a second language. Federal No Child Left Behind regulations call for students to be taught by persons fluent in English. The determination of fluency is left up to individual states.

Arizona seems to think that includes accents. Of course, they are wrong - accents do not by themselves measure fluency. And almost every person who is a native speaker of another language is going to have an accent when speaking English, unless they learned English at a young age.

"This is just one more indication of the incredible anti-immigrant sentiment in the state," said Bruce Merrill, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University who conducts public-opinion research.

Indeed. Arizona's action against immigrants didn't begin with the recent passage of the "show me your papers" bill, but it emboldened anti-immigrant sentiment in other states around the country, and apparently in the Arizona educational system too.

Arizona's education department has sent people into schools to audit teachers on comprehensible pronunciation, correct grammar and good writing. Teachers who fail are given the chance to improve, but if not, they must be fired or reassigned.

Oy vey. My in-laws immigrated here from Denmark in the 50s. They never lost their accents. My uncle, who immigrated here in the 60s from the Middle East, has never lost his accent (and how many immigrants who aren't children at the time of do?). My eldest's science teacher in middle school is a first generation American, whose family immigrated here from Mexico and for whom Spanish was the primary language spoken at home. She has a slight accent. All of these people I've mentioned were highly intelligent, highly educated people from whom you could learn much. But not in Arizona.

Makes me wonder if Arizona will ban Kindergarten Cop from the area video stores.

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