DOJ Protects Teachers With Unacceptable English Skills
SEPTEMBER 13, 2011
Public school teachers with unacceptable English pronunciation and grammar are 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.
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