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May 24th, 2010
08:00 AM ET

Arizona wants to reassign teachers with accents

(CNN) – It's been a month since Arizona passed its controversial immigration law that sparked protests from coast to coast. Now, state education officials want immigrant teachers with heavy accents removed from classes for students who are still learning English. They say they are following federal guidelines set up by the Bush administration in 2002, but critics are calling it an ethnic witch hunt. Our Thelma Gutierrez looks at the new debate in this AM original report.

Filed under: AM Original • Controversy • Immigration
soundoff (239 Responses)
  1. Mark Mason

    Tom Horne is WRONG, if you are going after public school teachers then you must implement this auditing of the taxpayer supported Charter schools. Can he really pick and choose which laws he wants to support and only go halfway?
    The Sonoran Science Academys in Arizona have immigrated Turkish teachers into the USA under HB-1 Visas. They have THICK accents and no experience teaching, their backgrounds are questionable. Many parents and students have complaoned that this is an issue.
    The Sonoran Science Academies have Turkish American Clubs, teach Turkish Language, Dancing, Singing Poetry. Et Al, Turkish Nationalism. and selected students get a trip to "Europe" which is actually a trip to Turkey at the end of the year for a performance. Turkey is actually in the Middle East (Asia Minor) and is not even apart nor will ever be part of the EU. Why do they call it a Euro Trip? Part of the deception of safety in words.
    Schools like this are in violation in two ways. One under the No Child Left Behind act implemented by Georgie Bush 2002 and two, the Ethnic studies program ban set in motion this year. Sonoran Science Academy is in violton of the law under both of these policies.

    Tom Horne, you cannot audit one school and turn your back on the Charter Schools that you support. Hypocrate. !! Charter Schools are public schools. Supported by our tax dollars. For some us already knowing that Turkish Non Profits in the communty have already been given free trips (deligation meetings) to local journalist, State Lawmakers in Education and the asstant to Janet Napalitono.

    May 25, 2010 at 11:55 am |
  2. Kristen

    I took many Spanish courses from K-12 and many of those teachers were not native Spanish speakers, i.e. they could not roll their r's! Maybe we should fire them as well??!!

    May 25, 2010 at 11:46 am |
  3. Heather

    Where's the line when its gone too far? Anybody who is an American has some roots from another country. What about the teachers with alcohol on their breath or the teachers who are burned out and stopped caring to teach properly or the tenure creepy teachers who prey on our children? There's a whole list of teachers that need to be weeded out. An "ethnic accent" is the least of American schools problems. Also, does the accent law include teachers with heavy Southern accents or east coast accents or Midwest teachers?? Ever heard a Bostonian teacher say "car"?? If Americans really want to speak English properly then every teacher in America would be fired and all the teachers from England who have a job, because if this country really wants "English" spoke properly, only an "English" person can speak it with an "English" accent. And the English speak very differently than us Americans. Get a refresher course and watch the BBC channel. Oh, but I forgot, this is AMERICA not England!

    May 25, 2010 at 11:19 am |
  4. WDRussell

    Arizona to change it's name to Odessa, in honor of it's new owners.

    May 25, 2010 at 11:09 am |
  5. elenore

    Accents cost you.Ask anyone who moved from the deep South to the North-East.My Grandmother lost her accent real quick and no probably never would have taught English in North East.Get over it.I had teachers with accents but they weren't teaching English or American Literature.Yes there are even American accents others can't understand.

    May 25, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  6. Jay

    Judging from the amount of grammar and convention errors in this forum, most of you great defenders of the English language have no right to criticize anyone.

    May 25, 2010 at 10:57 am |
  7. Ron S

    i have to say that i agree with AZ. i hate going to school and having to ask over and over for the teacher to repeat ANY class not just english. if you are going to teach to american students, you should be understandable. that goes for any job that you will be in contact in my opinion...but definitely in schools...ESPECIALLY in college where we have to pay for classes. it just makes sense. if we go to their country and cannot speak the language well we would get rediculed just as much as they are getting it here so i dont see the big deal. hell im black and i feel this way so it has nothing to do with race, just common sense

    May 25, 2010 at 10:49 am |
  8. NancyT

    That makes sense to me. When I learned German and Spanish in school, a lot of emphasis was put on proper pronunciation. It would seem even more important if these are students are there to learn English as their new native language. Sloppy pronunciation is ok if you're learning from a friend, but you should get the correct instruction in school. The students who do not learn proper English will be at a disadvantage because people will assume that they were not raised in America and are immigrants their entire lives. I'm sure they all want to be integrated as quickly as possible, so they can get the jobs Americans want rather than the jobs Americans don't want. Keeping a heavy accent is a way to keep these people down.

    May 25, 2010 at 10:45 am |
  9. William

    You should have to be able to speak the language before you are hired to teach the language. Speak proper English or go find another field to work in.

    May 25, 2010 at 10:21 am |
  10. William

    You should have to speak the language before you are hired to teach the language. Proper English is not that hard.

    May 25, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  11. Steve

    Both my grandmothers had thick Welsh the other Hungarian.I grew up understanding both despite their manner of speech being different than those of my friends.If anything exposure to differing accents has helped me understand other people with other the American Southern or the Detroit Whateveritis.Rather than insulating children from accents , Arizona ought to be embracing an educational opportunity.Exposure leads to understanding.Censure leads to ignorance.

    May 25, 2010 at 10:04 am |
  12. Jay

    So what about all those teachers I had when living in Texas that had heavy Southern accents that used incorrect grammar?

    -facepalm for Arizona-

    May 25, 2010 at 10:04 am |
  13. Bruce Kendall

    come to America Legally, my ancestors did, and just over 100 years ago. We have been highly successful since we arrived in Amerca legally. We dont send our money back to the home country we keep it here in our "new" country because we want our new homeland to prosper and be successful. We dont undermine our new country by sedicious acts of law breaking. We contribute and help others. We are Norwegian! One people to rule them, one people to bring them together and in the light of day bind them. Take a lesson from SCANDANAVIA you latinos. Wake up!

    May 25, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  14. Absolom Hawk

    I can only speak to this problem as it exists on the college level. College course material is difficult enough without being garbled by a heavily-accented instructor. When I was a student Ihad problems understanding the speech of foreign teaching assistants for whom English was a second language. It's a serious problem that should not be discounted through the tired and overused excuse of "racism."

    May 25, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  15. Loic

    With AZ we'll be dealing with internment camps by the end of the year it seems

    May 25, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  16. ErnestPayne

    Texans speak with an English accent? Yet more dimwitted amurican xenophobia. In this world there are two ways of doing anything. The right way and the american way.

    May 25, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  17. Abby

    Reminds me of an earlier period in our country's history where the focus was on discriminating against the Irish and Italians. Now those policies are viewed in retrospect as unethical and embarrassing. One would think we would learn from the mistakes of our past.

    May 25, 2010 at 9:22 am |
  18. AmazingThor

    So all those white people teaching English without a proper British accent are going to be fired?

    May 25, 2010 at 9:19 am |
  19. Ray

    Don't see anything wrong with this – and I'm of Hispanic extraction to boot. The ONE thing that unites us all as American is language. You are respected in business and social ocassions by your command of and dexterity with the worldwide language of business – English.

    I keep telling my wife we need to go back out to AZ soon to support it with our tourist dollars.

    May 25, 2010 at 9:09 am |
  20. danny

    well since I still have a strong italian accent I better get hell out from Arizona

    May 25, 2010 at 8:41 am |
  21. Tony Capuccini

    Boy, I hope no one from New Jersey teaches in Arizona...

    May 25, 2010 at 8:32 am |
  22. Really?

    Howie, you speak about 'functional illiteracy,' do you even know what literacy is? Hint: It isn't about speaking ability.

    Students should be exposed to different accents. Ignorance isn't education. Pretending 'foreigners' don't exist doesn't solve any problems. Alienating our own educators when one of America's biggest problems is a failing education system isn't good.

    Lastly, there are measurements of English ability for foreign learners. If they're in the proper education system they have passed those tests. Even despite that they're being pushed out? Why? How about we judge our teacher's based on their ability to teach.

    May 25, 2010 at 8:28 am |
  23. Larry

    This is fantastic! My fourth grade teacher had a speech impediment. Think of how many children suffered because of her sibilant S.

    But seriously, the problem with this law is how subjective the word accent is. David Sedaris wrote a piece about having a speech therapist who pronounced the word "pen" with two syllables. The outcome of this type of law will always depend on who's doing the interpreting.

    May 25, 2010 at 8:14 am |
  24. Paul

    Those of you spouting negative comments probably don't live near anyone who speaks with a thick accent, much less have your kids trying to learn english from them. We in AZ are not hunting Mexicans, only enforcing federal law (since they won't). In this case, the teachers aren't fired; they are reassigned . For petes sake, if you are a teacher in an english speaking country, get off your ass and polish your english. Otherwise you're making it difficult for students to comprende you.

    PS. Get stuffed you sanctimonious, bleeding heart weenises. Read SB 1070 before you comment on it.

    May 25, 2010 at 7:33 am |
  25. Julie

    This is great. I just had a horrible experience with a college math teacher that could not speak English here in Tucson. He would say divide and draw a X, or say five and draw an 8 on the board. He would mix up his words, and could not string together a sentence. He actually encouraged students to drop his class the first day, because he knew he couldn't be understood.

    May 25, 2010 at 6:38 am |
  26. Jake

    its about time "some" americans are bold enough to help defend our borders

    May 25, 2010 at 6:30 am |
  27. Greg E

    Arizona should be commended for their efforts at keeping the USA in touch with the Constitution.

    May 25, 2010 at 5:41 am |
  28. Gordon

    I don't see how any teacher with a foreign accent can be allowed to teach English...
    I would allow him/her to teach mathematics or any other subject but NOT English....

    May 25, 2010 at 5:26 am |
  29. Jackson

    If the language teachers have an accent to the point where they mispronounce words and are teaching their students wrong, then I agree with the school district wanting to move them into another position.

    If you can't speak the language correctly you have no business teaching it. For those teachers complaining about that, face reality and learn to speak correctly. If you can not or will not do this then resign and find another line of work.

    Quit whining......

    May 25, 2010 at 4:54 am |
  30. Gary

    Let's see, government officials asking for papers,looking to purify the society, and vilifying a group of people for all of societies ills. Sounds a lot like Nazi Germany. Did Al-Qaida do something to Arizona's water?

    May 25, 2010 at 4:14 am |
  31. Darric

    Umm... everyone has an accent. Also, everyone belongs to an ethnicity... So.... no teachers?.. AZ has just been on a rampage ever since they voted against MLK Day

    May 25, 2010 at 3:02 am |
  32. Mark White

    Can they make them wear yellow stars too?

    May 25, 2010 at 2:52 am |
  33. Rupert

    A fully qualified teacher being removed from teaching because of an accent?
    The teacher in the video had perfectly understandable English, with a very pleasant accent to listen to.

    "It is better one hundred guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer"
    -Benjamin Franklin, echoing a popular legal point throughout history.

    It is better that one hundred illegal immigrants be allowed to remain in the country than it is that one legal immigrant be persecuted.

    May 25, 2010 at 1:31 am |
  34. BLong

    Sorry, but I want my kids to learn English, not spanglish. If you want to teach my kids English, learn how to speak it properly. Period.

    May 25, 2010 at 1:31 am |
  35. skiboomer

    If they can speak American (or British) English FLUENTLY, they can teach it. I worked in France, same deal. I went to school in Switzerland, SAME DEAL! Hear any critiques there?

    All of this furor over a state wanting the Federal government to enforce their own laws. The Arizona law is the same as the Federal one.

    P.S. Mexico's illegal immigration laws are way harsher than ours, and Calderon has the temerity to criticize us? Obama agrees? Outrageous.

    May 25, 2010 at 1:25 am |
  36. V

    "Now, state education officials want immigrant teachers with heavy accents removed from classes for students who are still learning English."

    Let's're trying to learn ENGLISH from someone with an accent that makes native speakers wish for is this a good thing?

    My first foreign language teacher was not a native speaker: he knew the language but his accent was fairly bad, so I'm told, and his pronunciation (due to accent) left a bit to be desired. I mimic accents very well when learning and had to UNlearn this when I was able to find a teacher who had lived in-country and 'gone native' for a couple of decades.

    I don't care of my teachers have accents (that can be understood) for most subjects - sure, you may have to attune your ear to some accents but that only takes a couple of hours at most; often only a few minutes - but for learning to properly speak what is, to me, a foreign language: accurate native accents only please.

    The teachers are reassigned, not fired; it's not in the LEAST unreasonable that people learning a language do it from someone who, gosh, knows how to speak it.

    To quote the Left's mantra: WILL SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!?

    May 25, 2010 at 1:21 am |
  37. Gern

    What's so wrong with having people learn English correctly so that they can be understood? Would you rather they be able to communicate in a professional and intelligent manner, or have them sound like a caricature of Rosie Perez?

    May 25, 2010 at 1:00 am |
  38. Dev

    I am wondering if Arizona is the new Alabama. Is it the rise of KKK.

    May 24, 2010 at 11:44 pm |
  39. Marky Mark

    English teachers, especially, should have nearly perfect language skills, including orally. Math teachers need to be able to make themselves clearly understood, but their accent isn't critically important, as long the students clearly understand them. Proficiency in a language comes in degrees. There should be standards of proficiency for all teachers in any given metric, not just for immigrants. Everyone should be treated the same. Our schools deserve no less.

    May 24, 2010 at 9:13 pm |
  40. Ernest Poursine

    Sadly, when I see this type of discrimination, I think of the Communist Witch Hunts of the late 1940's and early 1950's. I fear that if this form of discrimination continues, other groups, whether racially, ethnically, or on religious grounds will eventually find themselves being looked at as an American. Only White Protestant aryans or their close relatives need apply. I see paralells also to the rise of the Third Reich in Germany also. When did it occur? In times of hardship, which anyone with common sense would realize was brought on by the Bush-Cheney Administration.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:49 pm |
  41. D J R

    Wow! This absolutely disgusts me. Racist maybe or just ugly and jealous? I think the Supt needs to be audited. Go back to Poland.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:39 pm |
  42. Ted

    Now we're talking about removing teachers from the classroom because of their accent?? Will we have the formation of "Accent Panels" to determine whose accent is strong enough to warrant removal? Has anyone attended school in Texas lately?? I moved there in 5th grade from Washington State, and it took me quite awhile to understand that West Texas drawl...definitely no pronunciation listed in Webster's like what I was hearing there. How about Louisiana? Boston? What does the "American" accent sound like? I have *zero* issue with someone teaching my child who has an accent because English is their second language, as long as they are competent in their subject area and their speech is intelligible.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:38 pm |
  43. Armando

    How about Black Teachers that what to teach "ebonics".? Fair is fair.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:38 pm |
  44. Neal Kienholz

    I agree with this requirement. For an Hispanic teacher with an accent to teach students the English language, it would not be correct for them to teach their accent to their students. They may not realize they are doing this, but it would be probable. As a parent of a student I would be upset to learn of this. These students would take the accent with them to the next grade where the teacher might not be Hispanic and would have additional work in order to correct these students' accents. The English language should be taught by a teacher who is fluent in this language. This would apply to any language. Why teach a child the incorrect pronunciations in any language? When they speak to someone whose native language is such, they will not understand them.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:36 pm |
  45. Armando

    What's next AZ, Brown stars sitched to there coat. Does that include Teachers with heavy acents from Europe as well. How about Teachers from the United Kingdom? After all that's not American English.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
  46. Anna W. Johnson

    They have to be kidding? What kind of a country is this turning into?

    My husband has been a professor and respected scientist in several well-known universities in the U.S. for 40 years, and he has a very distinct accent. He is Australian by birth. He only became a U.S. Citizen in 2008 so that he could vote for President Obama.

    We lived in Boston for many years. I am from the American South. We all have distinctive accents. Must we fear the "accent police" next?

    May 24, 2010 at 8:33 pm |
  47. Jenny

    What is up with AZ? ????????????
    They thought us we in the south were bad,

    May 24, 2010 at 8:32 pm |
  48. Mark

    You guys are not winning anyone over to your left wing ideology by reporting stuff like this. Isn't it obvious that English as a second language teachers should have a mastery of English?

    For too long ESL classes were places to dump students and dump poor teachers. Arizona is trying to make the classes actually be effective and you dump on them.


    May 24, 2010 at 8:31 pm |
  49. Holly Parsons

    Today, equality and American values reflect the frightening state of affairs in Arizona. We have rarely [Napolitano] elected officials in this state with anything remotely resembling enlightened leadership.... Arizonans of conscience and intelligence have allowed legislators to operate in a vaccum of self righteous indignation. Bravo CNN for casting a spotlight in this dark corner of the desert –

    May 24, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
  50. Jaime Montana

    I remember how beautiful it was for me as a young child at 2,3 and 4 yrs. old growing up in Southern California in the late 40's and early 50's when my enlightened parents took me to Tijuana. What do I remember?...another language from very friendly people that allowed me to think of a much larger world, painted donkey's to look like Zebras and jumping beans from the Sonoran plains and all the time that good natured friendliness that Mexico has come to mean to me. It allowed me to jump beyond my gringo boundaries. I began a life long love affair with Mexico and especially the Copper Canyon.

    I guess the point that I want to express is how sad it would be for me if Mexicans treated me the same way that our nation treats them. My life would never be so full without the mountains of Chihuahua, Mexico. I've been shot at, robbed, witnessed murder and so much more in the wild Sierra Madre, but nobody has wanted to toast my ass and I have been given so much. Maybe I need to write a book!
    El Burro

    May 24, 2010 at 8:25 pm |
  51. Ron

    This is the USA!! We speak ENGLISH here!! Respect it...learn it...speak clearly so our children will learn proper pronunciation of the native language. If I go to another country, I respect that country's native tounge..I do not ask them "Why do they not understand my language".. I am in their country...Learn to speak proper english if you want to be an thrive and be succsessfull here...A good example is Miami...they still think they are in a third world country down there and do not realize Florida is part of the USA and not Cuba.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  52. Justin

    Sounds more like they want the kids to learn proper english.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
  53. ArizonaYankee

    Witch hunt only for the liberals. Kids are struggling because of this. I struggled in college with a professor from India. Smart man, but couldn't communicate in English and the administration turned a deaf ear. We paid the money and struggled and the college really didn't care. They were PC, and we were SOL. Time to stop with the liberal PC and start getting reasonable. We want our country back, it's that simple and IMO Arizona knows that. They at least are trying to get the state back. Come Nov. we will start the process of getting the country back and cripple this toxic, spending President and is party.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
  54. Richard

    Does this include hillbilly accents? I grew up in a small town in southwest Oklahoma with some teachers that had no business teaching. They were actually coaches that got to teach the soft sciences but they could barely speak their names, much less do an adequate job of teaching.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  55. Mona

    What do you expect from AZ especially with Mc Cain as their
    flip-flop Senator. Come on people, aren't you reaching way
    above your head on this one? One thing is for certain, we
    won't be vacationing in such a state that has "prejudice" &
    "bias" on their minds. You need to get a life ya all!

    May 24, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  56. Peter

    So does that mean a teacher with a new york accent, a southern accent, or a texan accent can be moved also?

    May 24, 2010 at 8:16 pm |
  57. TheProPheT

    I'm sick to my stomach!!! ridiculous.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:16 pm |
  58. Mel

    I could tolerate the Arizona Immigration Law but this is beyond sickening.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
  59. Peter K.

    Next it will be to kick out anyone who is not a blue eye blonde and who doesn't wear a cross....

    May 24, 2010 at 8:14 pm |
  60. Debbie Right Truth

    Arizona simply wants teachers that the majority of children can understand. This is America, we speak English. I think what Arizona is doing is a great thing and I hope other States follow their lead.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:13 pm |
  61. rose

    Some teachers with accents are better teachers than teachers without accents. It is about knowing what you are teaching, having high expectations for your students and finally getting results.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:11 pm |
  62. Bob

    All teachers with accents should be fired.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
  63. Matt

    Is this a joke? Arizona is just asking for lawsuits and if the GOP is going to follow this racist-redneck path, then they might as well get ready for another Obama landslide. This is American, built by immigrants. While I agree that we need to reform our immigration process, this is just the wrong way to go about it.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
  64. Anon

    I am a High School teacher, and I was absolutely shocked to hear the professor from Arizona say that a teacher's way of pronouncing a word has no impact on students. I've found that first impressions are incredibly important. It is human nature to revert to what you "know" and studies have been done illustrating the point that people will hold onto initially taught facts even when they are clearly shown that those facts are false. Also, if everything is learned in context, what is the point of teachers? I found her position to be ill conceived and indefensible. Lastly, it is unfortunate the teacher in the segment felt she was being unfairly targeted, but it's regular practice to have classroom observations here in the Northeast. I actually like the idea, as it is a way of keeping teachers accountable and on the mandated curriculum. Without classroom observations, how else can it be assured teachers are doing what they should be doing? This is also the best way to evaluate teachers, not standardized testing. (which is another issue for another day)

    May 24, 2010 at 8:08 pm |
  65. Rolando Flores

    I am only going to say one thing, with the respect that she might deserve, who the hell she thinks she is, Now she wants to remove teachers with an accent. Come on America lets not put up with her stupidity. She is in power and now she thinks she is God? What Am I saying GOD would not do that to those poor people. And by the way she might have to do her own landscaping

    May 24, 2010 at 8:03 pm |
  66. Doc

    Witch Hunt is exactly the thought that came to mind this morning when I first watched this video. The only thing missing in the video (and I know why) were the Armbands. The 4th Reich is born in Nazi-Arizona.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:03 pm |
  67. Taker 2010

    CNN the only people protesting this is the ILLEGALS. It is time AMERICA started doing this it should have been done along time ago. If you want to do a real POLL ask hard working AMERICANS not college kids or ILLEGALS. Most Americans are for this and all the other Laws Arizona is trying to pass the other States will soon follow.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:00 pm |
  68. francisco alonso`

    I am a pacific islander who have been practicing as a general surgeon in this country since 1970. I still have an accent but very fluent in grammatically correct english. I am also fluent in spanish and tagalog and have never been told by my patients or any medical staff that they have difficulty understanding me. I am board certified in my specialty and have successfuly passed every examinations required by the specialty boards who are primarily english speaking experts with all kind of different accents.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
  69. Joseph K. Vermeille

    Xenophobia seems to be coming at us at full speed from Ariziona.
    Before we know, they will be telling us that people with an accent cannot be doctors, cashiers, cab drivers, movie actors, etc.... In their mindset, people with accent belong to the plantations! This type of behavior seems to be typical of citizens from some distant other civilization. They seem to have never heard of such famous Republicans as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, or
    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California... Is Arizona part of America?

    May 24, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
  70. Dave

    Yup, Let's get rid of teachers with thick accents. Let's start with Texan accents and work our way down to Georga.

    Latinos can be teachers, as long as they sound "white" enough? Who will be next? Gays can teach as long as they sound straight enough; liberals can teach as long as they sound sufficiently redneck?

    I worked in the Linguistics field for over 20 years. There is no justification for this. I learned three languages from a superb teacher with a thick Russian accent (in every language she spoke). Can I pass with a perfect local accent in any of them? No. Am I completely fluent and easily understoood in all of them. Yes. Did I pick up her Russian accent? I wish I had, at least in Russian – I have a distinctively American accent. And, as an American I can comfortably say that I would not mind having a Mexican accent, even in English! Except maybe in Arizona. (Of course, I have blonde hair, so I'd probably be safe anyway.)

    I can't see any way to look at this other than to say it's another small step for Arizona into Nazism. Mexicans – the new Jews.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:58 pm |
  71. Mustaqur Rahman

    Who needs an education? Just ask a rags-to-riches multi-million dollars lotto winner.
    In today's USA, apparently most of the population identify themselves with a non-english background, and even don't care much about the language they speak (not to mention writing).
    The obvious question is: Does pronunciation matter any more these days? Look around and open your ears.
    Who pays attention to his/her language – English in question?
    Does anyone care about the decency – the civilized values – today?
    What good is a costly education, if the bad students and crooks become wealthy and influential and the good students struggles to make their ends meet?
    Out of curiosity, how many teachers are the ideal role models, to begin with? Take a good look at the popular role models.
    Someone has to stand up and deliver the good fruits.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:58 pm |
  72. Mikey Bobby

    As a college freshman at the University of South Carolina, I was forced to sit under the tutelage of a French graduate student for an English 102 class.
    English 102 is, admittedly, a literature class– but I found the idea of a barely-intelligible... English-grammar-mangling-individual "teaching" English to be very ironic (and unbearable).
    I submitted all the required work, and received passing grades on all assignments. I did not, however, attend class as often as I suppose I should have– since I gained nothing from it.. and probably did a better job of learning on my own.
    At the end of the semester, my "teacher" informed me that he could not give me a passing grade– because.. "it would not be fair to the other students who attended."
    I guess now that I am repaying my students loans (and will be for a long long time), I don't feel it's "fair" this is the sort of education my $30K helped to purchase.
    I imagine the tax-payers of Arizona may feel somewhat the same.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:57 pm |
  73. misterjack

    I have to agree with this action. This is similar to calling tech support for a computer problem or banking problem – you get people whose English you cannot understand. I think that many of these worker go to some kind of speech training to help them reduce their accents. So, why can't teachers who have lived in the US for many years and still do not speak English without an accent go to this kind of training?

    If you were a student who had trouble with pronunciation or articulation, you would be on your way to speech therapy to correct the problem.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:56 pm |
  74. Tonny

    Yes. I believe immigrant teachers are being target. I have a Ph.D. and I have taught in college. I can say with confidence that this is discrimination. When are we going to remove Australians from teaching in our school? When are we going to remove teachers with heavy Southern accent from teaching? Sooner or later, we need to remove those teachers who have imperfect grammar! By the way, Americans make the most grammatical mistakes among English speaking people.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:56 pm |
  75. BertTexas

    "In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin.

    But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag. We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language. And we have room for but one sole loyalty – and that is a loyalty to the American people."

    Theodore Roosevelt, 1907

    May 24, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
  76. JJ

    Wow. IQ's really -are- dropping like rocks in that state, eh? Looks like their education authorities have just about the IQ of a rattle!

    May 24, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
  77. Karen

    It's totally clear that Arizona has a prejudice/racism issue.
    The superintendent himself has Polish relatives. I wonder if he sent them back to Poland. 🙂

    May 24, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
  78. Liz Pena

    What can you expect from a state that had to be forced to accept Martin Luther King day as a holiday and then outwardly accepts racial profiling with the new bill....I am embarrassed to call myself an American and have Arizona as one of the states of the union....I am a Cuban American born in the United States and proud to be an American but have recently been appalled to see the racial hatred that has been brewing from the right and Tea Party and not particular states. This is not about protecting borders but about one group of people who have realized that they will be the minority very soon!!

    May 24, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
  79. Ann

    I agree they shouldn't teach English. But face it, immigrants know more math and science than the stupid Americans. Better to know well the concepts and explain them with an accent rather than use a nice English to confuse the students.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:49 pm |
  80. C. Figueroa

    I can't imagine that the state authority of Arizona who licenses teachers would have allowed anyone they felt incapable to teach a subject, any subject, to have a license and to hired them.

    Living in the northeast we not only have English teachers but professors in our universities with varied ethnic backgrounds and accents. It is clear to anyone who has been following what is happening in that state knows which type of nationality the state is trying to rid themselves of. They should perhaps issue arm bands with an "H" on them and legislate that all Hispanics wear them in public. For my part what I will do is to research all Arizona state based businesses in every industry, including on-line universities, hotels, airlines, food, insurance, banking, real estate, securities brokerage, automotive, hospitals, charities, governing political party, newspapers – all print media, entertainment companies, sports teams, clothing etc and boycott them. Additionally dedicate all possible time and resources to have other Hispanics and other people of goodwill to do the same.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
  81. bill

    I learned French as a second language before being sent to Paris for school. I wanted to learn the correct way, and this didn't mean just grammar. I wanted to say French like the French. Sorry. I do believe that language should be taught as that language, not as a partial replica.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:47 pm |
  82. Jay

    Though I am from India and 1st generation here in the U.S., and I totally agree with teaching with access MUST be prohibited. I have two children of my own and I do not (Never) want them to learn limited vocabulary, mispronounciations, wrong grammar etc.

    I absolutely agree with school district and such teachers must be removed.


    May 24, 2010 at 7:45 pm |
  83. Average Joe

    This is unfair to many immigrants. Are we focusing on wrong things? When non-English speaking immigrants came to this country years ago it appears that we were more tolerant then. Is this part of overall strategy to make life miserable to all legal immigrants too, so that we can call it 'True' America, eventually when immigrants pursue their dreams and initiative and passion for excellence somewhere else (may be China), in which case we will be left only with the culture of TV, Beer, NASCAR, not GOOGLES, EBAY, SUN MICRO pioneers and game changers. We cannot be half the country we are today if it was not for legal immigrants and their children, going back several centuries.

    Take it easy on your agenda folks. We already consider AZ another country. I may have to carry passport even though share of my taxes probably trickle down to 'entitled English' speaking immigrant lounging and watching 'LOST'.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:44 pm |
  84. steve

    Ask the Students:

    1. Do you have a preference if your teacher can pronounce the English language correctly or not.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
  85. HarrysWatch

    So does that include people with southern, Boston, Minnesota, New York or Chicago accents or just Hispanic accents? Could Sara Palin teach in Arizona?

    May 24, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
  86. ac

    all I can say is WOW. Is Arizona wanting to become the face of american racism or what. this is just crazy.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
  87. TMG

    As someone who suffered under teaches with accents so heavy they were unintelligable I applaud states support of this federal law. It will be very helpful for an educations system that has suffered for too long.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:41 pm |
  88. becky

    Wow will they remove southern teachers who have a accent also?

    May 24, 2010 at 7:38 pm |
  89. David Wiseman

    I am not sure how this qualifies as a witch hunt without more information. The unfortunate truth is English is the most difficult language to learn, at least of the major languages spoken around the world. Having said that, I could see it being extremely difficult to learn the language from a teacher who is not pronouncing the words as clearly as possible. The problem is that, and I am making an educated guess here, that most of the "accents" are spanish speaking accents so the reality is the program is targeting 99% of spanish speaking teachers. However, if the teachers were German, French, Russian, South African, or any other nationality or language speaking teachers I could see the same issue being a problem. This is a practical matter, which we are turning into a political correctness issue.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
  90. Magdalena

    I can see where the superintendent is coming from, even though it has unfortunate ethnic and racial implications. From personal experience, I can say that the thing that was most helpful for me while learning a foreign language was listening to and interacting with a native speaker on a regular basis. You eventually learn what sounds right and what doesn't, both in pronunciation and grammar.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:36 pm |
  91. RK

    What is happening to this state? Have they seriously lost it?

    May 24, 2010 at 7:36 pm |
  92. Joseph Shippee

    When I was growing up, my Father was an officer in the Navy – so we moved quite a bit. I remember moving from California to rural Mississippi for a couple years, and having such a hard time adjusting to the thick accents of my elementary school teachers. If Arizona is going to single out teachers with accents, we might as well apply the same rules to teachers with any sort of accent – "southern" included!

    May 24, 2010 at 7:36 pm |
  93. Mark

    Your headline is as inaccurate as your biased opinion.

    "Arizona wants to reassign teachers with accents"?

    Where does that come from????? That is not what the goal is! !! The superintendent is going after teachers with "faulty English" in order to raise standards in schools. That means teachers who are not speaking grammatically correct English themselves. It is entirely possible to have an accent, and still speak perfectly good English, just as all of the teachers did in your segment.

    However, there are plenty of people who do not speak proper English but are in teaching positions. Why didn't you speak to them? There were 25 according to your own report. Those are the people that he is trying to deal with. Your assumption that he is out to get people with accents and its associated racist implications is biased journalism at its worst.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:33 pm |
  94. billp

    I grew up on Chicago's South Side and had a teacher with a strong Irish accent, and another from Poland who used antiquated terms like "looking glass." Good thing for them they weren't teaching in Arizona.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  95. E. Mould

    This is going too far,and does not make sense at all. All Americans have accents based on their region of origin, that is (North East, South East, North East, South West, Mid West, or Deep South).

    Those from Boston area speak different from New Yorkers. Those from Southern States speak different from Mid West. We have government officials at both federal, states and local levels with accents.

    If these teachers are certified with proper academic qualifications, this may be a constitution violation, and may result in major litigation.


    May 24, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  96. Joe Fattal

    Makes good sense to me. If I am about to learn English I would rather have someone that speak it and articulate it fluently. If not you'll end up speaking it like your teacher, with their accent.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:31 pm |
  97. shocked1961

    I can only speak for myself, but this video, at the very least, seems to back up the charges of racism that have been leveled against Arizona's government. When speaking English, who has the proper accent? Of coures, it's not irrefutable evidence, but it's a strong indicator of something at work besides controlling the border.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:31 pm |
  98. Marigolds

    Coming from Iowa, I'm pretty sure nearly every teacher in Arizona has a "heavy accent" regardless of ethnicity. Half of native Zoners are nearly unintelligible.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
  99. Mary

    Are we in the 21st Century or the middle ages. This is a country of immigrants. I am from Ireland I have a college degree and I am a US citizen. Can I teach? What is a "heavy accent"? Good God what is happening to this country it going to be another Adolph Hitlers Germany??
    People stand up for the constitution of the US. As a US citizen this is taking the countyr back 100 years. I am appauled.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:29 pm |
  100. lou 1234

    I totally agree. Teachers should be able to speak perfect English, or else how can we expect students to learn it and become proficient in speaking it clearly?

    May 24, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
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