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Hasta la vista, Aryan-zona

13 May 2010

I’m not sure it was a joke…

Emory University may have decided The Honorable Arnold Alois Schwarzenneger is entitled to be a Doctor of laws, but he better not try teaching Kindergarten in Arizona:

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.

But, then again, maybe Herr Doktor Gobernator’s teaching style is a bit problematic for other reasons …

Or maybe not<!–:

On Monday in Geneva the United Nations Commission on Human Rights issued a statement warning of what it called “a disturbing legal pattern hostile to ethnic minorities and immigrants.”  The statement said that Arizona’s new law cracking down on illegal immigration contained language raising “serious doubts about the law’s compatibility with relevant international human rights treaties to which the United States is a part.”

The United Nations statement was also critical of HB 2281, a measure Governor Brewer signed into law on Wednesday placing restrictions on public school ethnic studies programs.  The U.N. statement said the new law is “at odds with the State’s responsibility to respect the right of everyone to have access to his or her own cultural and linguistic heritage and to participate in cultural life.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ken Riley permalink
    15 May 2010 3:18 pm

    I’ll be curious to see what accents are included in Arizona’s banned list. I, for one, find much of the English spoken in the southern US to be very difficult to understand. And the vernacular in Texas and Louisiana really should constitute separate languages.

  2. Neefer permalink
    17 May 2010 4:40 pm

    My father, an ESLer from the ’20s, has a terrible time with British, Scottish, Irish, and Australian accents. Perhaps Arizona is targeting those accents.

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