Everyone’s been so caught up with Arizona’s new immigration law that we’ve been ignoring another total injustice: Arizona’s new teaching law. The Department of Education in Arizona has announced that it will begin to cut funding from schools that employ English teachers who have “heavily accented or ungrammatical” accents.

We are–to borrow a phrase from JFK–a nation of immigrants. We all came to this country from somewhere. This streak of narrow-minded, “gotcha” politics is counterproductive, and undermines the values on which this country was founded.

To say that someone cannot be a successful teacher because of the way they speak is similar to saying that a person cannot be a successful teacher because of the way they look. The only avenue anyone should be taking to judge teachers is examining the way that they teach.


5 thoughts on “Xenophobia

  1. You’re forgetting that teachers are supposed to teach their students how to speak CORRECTLY. If teachers are making grammatical mistakes, so will the kids. That’s a great quote, but your point is moot. However I do agree that cutting funding is an unnecessary and off target approach. Schools simply just shouldn’t be allowed to employ teachers who don’t know how to speak English.

  2. politically.challenged,

    The law doesn’t apply to teachers who make grammatical mistakes. It applies to teacher who have accents; meaning that if a teacher speaks in grammatically correct language, but has an accent, he/she cannot teach English.

    Yes, if ANY English teacher can’t speak English with correct grammar, they should not be teaching English. But, unfortunately, that’s not what the law is addressing.

  3. “English teachers who have ‘heavily accented or ungrammatical’ accents.”
    Main Entry: un·gram·mat·i·cal
    Pronunciation: \ˌən-grə-ˈma-ti-kəl\
    Function: adjective
    Date: 1654
    : not following rules of grammar
    — un·gram·mat·i·cal·i·ty \-ˌma-tə-ˈka-lə-tē\ noun
    courtesy of merriam webster

  4. I hate to admit it, but I sort of agree with Politically Challenged. It’s ENGLISH class. Hasn’t it all gone a bit too far if we have an issue with English teachers who really shouldn’t be teaching English but end up continuing to teach because it’s PC? Being a “nation of immigrants” does not mean that everyone/anyone is qualified to have any job, including teaching English comprehensively, just because they live here and want/think they deserve a job. I’d like phone operators who speak English. I want to be able to understand people that help me in stores or customer service reps…but those days may be long gone, but is it so much to ask for an English teacher to speak grammatically correct English without a heavy accent — which could very well change the way students learn words pronunciation etc.? According to a WSJ article: “State auditors have reported to the district that some teachers pronounce words such as violet as “biolet,” think as “tink” and swallow the ending sounds of words, as they sometimes do in Spanish.” The teachers that don’t pass muster are allowed to take classes and get retested…. That said, education system in the country is a joke and no one should be cutting education budgets.

  5. Ram v’barak,

    If that’s the case (the WSJ article), then the law in Arizona should be more specific, or perhaps the process of earning a teaching license in Arizona should be more rigorous. The way to handle these problems is from the bottom up, not from the top down. You catch it at the source, and deal with it there, before allowing people to become teachers. I don’t believe this because it’s “PC”. I believe it because two wrongs don’t make a right; a discriminatory law isn’t necessarily the right solution to a teaching issue.
    A metaphor could be the right way to deal with illegal immigration: a) catch it at the source, and b) if it’s already happened, help those who have “transgressed” to be repentant and improve upon themselves (aka, make it easier for them to BECOME a citizen of the country).

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