Sunday, September 25, 2011

Latinos and Accent Discrimination in Arizona

When you thought Arizona could not become any more inhospitable to Latinos, here's the latest: the state is now monitoring "repeated pattern[s] of misuse of the language or mispronunciation of the language." Teachers who attract the attention of state monitors are asked to take a class with an "accent reduction specialist." This is because, according to Andrew LeFevre, a spokesman for the State Department of Education, “[i]t’s critically important that teachers act as models when it comes to language.”

The point is not that the teachers are not fluent in English but, rather, that their pronunciation is not to the district's standards.  A federal review found, for example, that teacherts were written up "for pronouncing 'the' as 'da,' 'another' as 'anuder' and 'lives here' as 'leeves here.'"

This baffles on many fronts.  At root, and as federal officials and attorneys filing complaints acknowledge, this is discrimination.  I would love to test the district's resolve on this: how would they approach teachers who have recently moved to Arizona from Boston, New York, or South Carolina?  How do they decide what kind of language role models are acceptable and which ones are not?

I can only wonder, and shudder about, what state officials will come up with next.

1 comment:

  1. It's worth noting that Bush II, with his many (un)intentional derivations of actual english, would need to quickly adopt a strategery to circumvent his impediment if he wished to teach in AZ. It seems to me that Rick Perry might have the same problem. Ironically, Bachmann would be just fine teaching either American History or Sex Ed.