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Arizona Ethnic Studies Classes Banned, Teachers With Accents Can No Longer Teach English

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Arizona's new immigration law is just about crime, its supporters say, but given that the state's new education policy equates ethnic studies programs with high treason, they may not be using the commonly accepted definition of "crime."

Under the ban, sent to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer by the state legislature Thursday, schools will lose state funding if they offer any courses that "promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment of a particular race or class of people, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals."

As ThinkProgress notes, the Tucson Unified School District's popular Mexican-American studies department is the target here. The state superintendent charges that the program exhibits "ethnic chauvinism."

Meanwhile, in a move that was more covert until the Wall Street Journal uncovered it, the Arizona Department of Education has told schools that teachers with "heavy" or "ungrammatical" accents are no longer allowed to teach English classes.

As outlined by the Journal, Arizona's recent pattern of discriminatory education policies is ironic -- and is likely a function of No Child Left Behind funding requirements -- given that the state spent a decade recruiting teachers for whom English was a second language.

In the 1990s, Arizona hired hundreds of teachers whose first language was Spanish as part of a broad bilingual-education program. Many were recruited from Latin America.



Then in 2000, voters passed a ballot measure stipulating that instruction be offered only in English. Bilingual teachers who had been instructing in Spanish switched to English.

Teachers who don't meet the new fluency standards have the option of taking classes to improve their English, the Journal reports, but if they fail to reach the state's targets would be fired or reassigned.

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Filed by Jeff Muskus
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