I was reading this article (April 30, 2010) from The Wall Street Journal regarding an effort to remove teachers who have "heavy accents" from English classrooms. It's an interesting read. Over at Think Progress, it was noted that Tom Horne, who put this removal project in motion, used as an example the pronunciation of the word "comma" with a Spanish accent to explain a problematic use of the English language on FNC. A teacher who pronounced "comma" as "COH-ma" would need to be removed from an English class. Now this sounds like a position that one could argue. You want those being taught English to learn it properly, including pronunciation. Fine. Yet, Horne tried to make it clear that Arizona would not be searching for teachers with heavy accents. No, they would be looking for teachers who use faulty grammar. So, why would Horne use, as his example, the demonstration of a heavy accent, as opposed to say improper grammar? Which is it?
Now according to the WSJ article, Arizona recruited a large number of teachers from various countries in Latin America for a bi-lingual education program. Subsequently, as the WSJ article noted, Arizona instituted that an English only instruction in the classroom, and a number of the recruited teachers had to switch from teaching in their native language, Spanish, to English. Now with all of that, why not just come clean and say that this is a way to remove many of these teachers? And why not own up to the fact that Arizona really is focused more on how teachers sound speaking the English language, than if those teachers are actually using proper English grammar?
Think of it this way. I would venture to guess that a student in Arizona might have some difficulty understanding (at first) a teacher with a really strong New England accent, or even a teacher with a really strong Southern accent. Both of those teachers could be trained perfectly in English grammar, but I am guessing that they would not be up for review for possible dismissal. What about a teacher of English from one of the European countries (not including Spain, and perhaps Portugal)? If his/her grammar is stellar, but the accent is strong, would he/she be reviewed?
Someone needs to ask Horne these questions, because I think that this program, as with the Arizona immigration law, and with the banning of ethnic studies courses, has more to do with ethnicity than Horne is willing to admit publicly.