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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Yo no hablo inglés

“Our common language is English. And our common task is to ensure that our non-English-speaking children learn this common language.” — William Bennett

Would you hire a math teacher that does not understand Pythagoras' theorem? Or possibly a science teacher that believes dihydrogen a toxic substance. How about a civics teacher that does not know the Constitution of the United States or an English teacher that does not know what a serial comma is.

Well today Arizona is battling with such an issue with English teachers in K-12 schools that have such a heavy accent they cannot be understood. According to a report of April, 2010 in the Wall Street Journal, a report that has gone unnoticed by many in the media, the State of Arizona is pushing school districts to reassign instructors with heavy accents or other shortcomings in their English:

“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 teacher controversy comes amid an increasingly tense debate over immigration. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer this month signed the nation's toughest law to crack down on illegal immigrants. Critics charge that the broader political climate has emboldened state education officials to target immigrant teachers at a time when a budget crisis has forced layoffs.

"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.

Margaret Dugan, deputy superintendent of the state's schools, disagreed, saying that critics were "politicizing the educational environment."

In the 1990s, Arizona hired hundreds of teachers whose first language was Spanish as part of a broad bilingual-education program. Many were recruited from Latin America.

Then in 2000, voters passed a ballot measure stipulating that instruction be offered only in English. Bilingual teachers who had been instructing in Spanish switched to English.

Ms. Dugan said some schools hadn't been complying with the state law that made English the only language in the classroom. "Our job is to make sure the teachers are highly qualified in fluency of the English language. We know districts that have a fluency problem," she said.”

The Wall Street Journal report continues:

“Arizona's enforcement of fluency standards is based on an interpretation of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. That law states that for a school to receive federal funds, students learning English must be instructed by teachers fluent in the language. Defining fluency is left to each state, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education said.

"The teacher obviously must be fluent in every aspect of the English language," said Adela Santa Cruz, director of the Arizona education-department office charged with enforcing standards in classes for students with limited English.

The education department has dispatched evaluators to audit teachers across the state on things such as comprehensible pronunciation, correct grammar and good writing.

Teachers that don't pass muster may take classes or other steps to improve their English; if fluency continues to be a problem, Ms. Santa Cruz said, it is up to school districts to decide whether to fire teachers or reassign them to mainstream classes not designated for students still learning to speak English. However, teachers shouldn't continue to work in classes for non-native English speakers.”

Public school teachers with unacceptable English pronunciation and grammar are now being protected by the Obama Administration, which has forced one state to eliminate a fluency monitoring program created to comply with a 2002 federal education law.

Singling out teachers who can’t speak proper English in American schools—funded by taxpayers, no less—discriminates against Hispanics and others who are not native English speakers, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). As a result it violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the teachers must remain in their current position.

Unbelievable as this may seem, it’s a true story reported this week by Arizona’s largest newspaper. Ironically, the state launched the fluency monitoring program to comply with the bipartisan-backed No Child Left Behind Act, which requires states to create standardized tests that show public school students are reaching proficiency in core subjects like English, math and science.

With only a small proportion of low-English proficiency students (reading between the lines they are referring to illegal immigrants) passing the state’s standardized reading test, Arizona education officials started to look at the teachers in those classrooms. They found a common thread in dozens of districts throughout the state; many instructors don’t speak proper English and, in fact, teach in Spanish, using Spanish-language materials. Some have “unacceptably heavy accents” that causes them to mispronounce words. Others use poor English grammar.

Here are some examples of state monitoring reports listed in the article; a teacher who asked her English learners "How do we call it in English?" and teachers who pronounced "levels" as "lebels" and "much" as "mush." Last year a monitor documented teachers who pronounced "the" as "da" and "lives here" as "leeves here."

Protected by the power of their union, no teachers have been fired for fluency issues. They have simply been reassigned and districts are required to develop “corrective-action plans” to improve their English. However a group of teachers took their case to the feds last year, complaining that their accents were getting them removed from classrooms.

This is the sort of issue that makes the Justice Department’s bloated civil rights division salivate. Predictably, the agency took swift action, threatening to file a civil rights lawsuit if Arizona didn’t get rid of its teacher fluency monitoring program. As a result, thousands of children in the state’s taxpayer funded schools are stuck with teachers they probably can’t understand.

The superintendent of Arizona’s public schools (John Huppenthal) says his office will continue encouraging districts to help teachers with flawed English pronunciation or grammar. “Students should be in a class where teachers can articulate,” he said.

According to the Arizona Central Arizona’s teacher accent scrutiny was halted to avoid lawsuit by the Department of Justice:

“Facing a possible civil-rights lawsuit, Arizona has struck an agreement with federal officials to stop monitoring classrooms for mispronounced words and poor grammar from teachers of students still learning the English language.

Instead, the task of testing teachers' fluency in English will fall to school districts and charter schools as part of federal and state legal requirements.

The state's agreement with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education allows it to avoid further investigation and a possible federal civil-rights lawsuit.

The investigation began after unnamed parties filed a civil-rights complaint in May 2010 alleging that the state's on-site monitoring reports led to teachers being removed from classrooms based on their accents.

In November, federal officials told Arizona that its fluency monitoring may violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating against teachers who are Hispanic and others who are not native English speakers.

Under the agreement, the Arizona Department of Education will remove the fluency section from the form used by its monitors who visit classrooms. It also will require schools and districts to file assurances with the state that their teachers are fluent. The state did not admit any wrongdoing.

As a result, federal officials determined there were insufficient facts to establish a civil-rights violation and closed the case.

Despite the agreement to drop fluency from the form, John Huppenthal, Arizona superintendent of public instruction, said his office will continue to instruct state monitors to talk to districts about individual teachers whose English pronunciation or grammar is flawed.

"We still are going to be conscious of these articulation issues," Huppenthal said. "Students should be in a class where teachers can articulate."

State monitoring

Each year, state monitors visit a sampling of classrooms to determine compliance with state and federal laws covering how schools teach children still learning English.

The monitoring of teacher fluency began in 2002 after passage of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

A concern was the low proportion of English-learning students who pass the state's standardized test in reading, writing and math, called AIMS.

Monitors have reported infractions such as teachers instructing in Spanish, using Spanish-language teaching materials or hanging Spanish-language posters on their classroom walls, which are prohibited by Arizona's English-only law.

Monitors also reported that some teachers did not have proper credentials to teach English learners.

The monitors also noted what they considered unacceptably heavy accents that caused some teachers to mispronounce words and teachers using poor English grammar.

In 2007, The Arizona Republic examined reports from the 32 districts monitored that year. State officials found teachers with unacceptable pronunciation and grammar in nine districts.”

Borders, Culture, and Language are the three things that make a nation. Today, in the name of diversity and multiculturalism, we are losing all three. No industrialized nation in the world will pervert its culture, borders and language then we have in the past 40 years. If you live in Germany you must learn proper German. If you live in France you must learn French. If you live in Mexico you must learn Spanish.

In our desire for cheap labor we have allowed an infiltration of illegal immigrants into our country that over the years have had children that are now citizens due to the unintended consequences of the Fourteenth Amendment. These children, who are not proficient in English, are now in our public schools. They are not learning proper English. They are not learning our history and Constitution. They want to transpose their cultures for ours. All of this is being done in the name of diversity and multiculturalism with the support of the race and ethnic pimps who are vying for their votes. This goes for both Democrats and Republicans, but mainly progressive Democrats.

How well prepared will these children be prepared to obtain good paying jobs if they cannot read, write or speak proper English? How well will they be prepared for college even with all of the special considerations they receive? They may get into a college due to the mandated diversity rudiments, but what will they do when they get there except join racial or ethnic radial groups and protest for more entitlements.

As someone who hired people for clerical and technical positions I know how much my firm valued the ability to read and write proper English. We could not tolerate an engineer or clerical assistant who was unable to express themselves succinctly and cogently on paper or in spoken words.

While these measures of diversity may sound humane and kind we are doing these children a tremendous disservice by not demanding they learn proper English grammar, syntax and pronunciation.

In May 2004 Bill Cosby addressed the NAACP with a stern admonishment to those who will not teach African American children to speak proper English. Cosby is quoted in World Net Daily:

"Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids – $500 sneakers for what? And won't spend $200 for 'Hooked on Phonics.'

They're standing on the corner and they can't speak English. I can't even talk the way these people talk: 'Why you ain't,' 'Where you is' ... And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. ... Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. ... You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth!"

In another example Garrard McClendon, an educator with 18 years’ experience, has written a book entitled Ask or Ax where he echoes Cosby’s comments.

Today where are the Cosbys and McClendons in the Hispanic community? When will they step up and speak for these children instead of pimping for votes?

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