Arizona Goes After Teachers With Accents

If not 'fluent,' they can't teach English learners

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 30, 2010 9:39 AM CDT

(Newser) – Arizona is already under fire for its controversial new immigration law, and now this: Schools in the state are being forced to fire or reassign some teachers who speak English with an accent. Teachers who aren’t deemed fluent can’t be in classrooms where students are still learning English, meaning many veteran teachers are taking classes to improve their English—and if that doesn’t work, facing a move to a higher grade where English learners are fewer; about 12.5% of the state's public-school students are considered "English Language Learners."

Some of the pronunciation problems the Department of Education notes: violet is “biolet” and think is “tink.” While one principal agrees “teachers should speak grammatically correct English,” she doesn’t see why accents should be punished. “This is just one more indication of the incredible anti-immigrant sentiment in the state,” one professor tells the Wall Street Journal. Ironically, Arizona hired hundreds of Spanish-speaking teachers, many of them recruited from Latin America, in the 1990s to teach bilingual education.

In this photo taken on April 20, 2010, Cedarlane Middle School teacher, Angela Wang, right, teaches Origami as part of a Chinese Language and Culture class in the Hacienda Heights area of Los Angeles.
In this photo taken on April 20, 2010, Cedarlane Middle School teacher, Angela Wang, right, teaches Origami as part of a Chinese Language and Culture class in the Hacienda Heights area of Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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