I work with a naturalized Romanian and several Filipinas. Last night they brought up the story of teachers being reassigned or laid off because of their accents. Of course when they told me this story, they didn’t mention that it was teachers being let go, because they didn’t know that part of the story. So this morning I looked for the story, online and found it at the Wall Street Journal.
My daughter’s an elementary school teacher. She teaches immigrant children in a program called ELL – English Language Learner.
About 150,000 of Arizona’s 1.2 million public-school students are classified as English Language Learners. Of the state’s 247 school districts, about 20 have high concentrations of such students, the largest number of which are in the younger grades.
Jane is not supposed to speak Spanish in her classroom in order to teach English to these children.
Needless to say, she’s lost some students in the last couple of weeks, since this law in Arizona was passed. Many of these families are fleeing to California. This has been heartbreaking for her. But she also sees the need for these people to do things the legal way.
The Journal story emphasis is on teachers from Latin countries who are teaching in Arizona, and speak with a heavy accent (that’s a subjective criteria and even I don’t see how that can be fair – a heavy accent to me might not be to you) and do not speak in a grammatically correct way (I can see the importance of that.) And Arizona passed a law long ago that English is the language of the classroom and fluency is mandatory: that means grammatically correct.
Ms. Santa Cruz, the state official, said evaluators weren’t looking at accents alone. “We look at the best models for English pronunciation,” she said. “It becomes an issue when pronunciation affects comprehensibility.”
It would be a lot like having a math teacher in the classroom who can’t add or subtract. Teachers must be fluent in English in order to teach our kids. There is no way to be successful in America if you can’t read, write and speak the language. I would never expect to open business or apply for a job in Japan, for cryin’ out loud if I didn’t know the language. This is not hard to understand. A teachers job is to prepare children to be productive members in the American society and if they can’t even speak the language correctly, why would we want to put our children in their hands?